We're home from our annual Connelly family reunion--well, this particular branch of Connellys anyway. It seems to be a common name with many variant spellings: Connolly, Conley, Connely, Conolly, Connellan, Connelley, and many others. Our family descends, my sister as discovered, from a Felix Connelly born in 1775--what his antecedents were we have no idea, but Judy has done an amazing job of getting the genealogy traced at least that far.
We never had a reunion until after my parents passed away. Suddenly, it became important to us to hold together what we had left. With 13 siblings, even our immediate family was huge and without the glue of our parents we were in danger of drifting apart. So we held a reunion, and the first year we had over 130 in attendance--not just my parents' descendants but also those of my father's brothers Bernie and Bud. It had been years since I had seen some of them and it was a thrill to meet not only them but also their spouses, children and grandchildren.
That was 2007, and since then we've met every year. Sadly, every year the numbers dwindle. We have lost a few, including my own son, to Death, that demon harvester. Graduations, ballgames, proms and other life events have intervened for others as children get older and things get more complicated. Still, this year about 50 of us managed to get away for a day or two of conversations, hugs, laughter, stories and a mammoth kickball game with all ages participating.
Next year will be our 10th reunion. Will our numbers continue to decrease? Of my 12 siblings, only six managed to make the trek this year. Will our tenth be a time for everyone to come together once again?
I wonder if other families who have reunions go through the same kind of boom-bust cycle. Since we've never had reunions before, it's hard to know. Some of us have talked about changing the date, the location, the structure. But maybe this is a normal part of the life cycle of reunions?
All I know for sure is that I love seeing my family, and appreciate those who do manage to come. Life is complicated these days and we are all pulled in many directions. But family, the structural foundation of who we are, where we came from and where we're going is the one constant, the touchstone. It is a blessing we often take for granted until we find ourselves in need--and then it is family that comes forward and does what needs to be done.
So if your family is planning a reunion, make plans to attend. Bring your photos, your good food and your love and have one of the best times you're likely to enjoy for the entire year.
Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.