My three sisters, mother, aunt and I rented a nine bedroom lodge at a lake for a week in July and shared the cooking.
The family is distributed among multiple towns and cities. Winter storms make it difficult to get together in December. Our annual summer reunion is the only opportunity to connect with family members in person – a time to take the pulse of each other’s lives and celebrate milestones. This year one niece was recently engaged and another just graduated from college, two nephews will start high school and college respectively in the fall, a sister and her latest partner (third time’s a charm) bought a house, we celebrated my mother’s 80th birthday, and we collectively acknowledged the five year anniversary of our husband-brother-father-grandfather’s passing.
Reunions can be wonderful. Family history is shared. Old memories are exhumed for dissection and reassembly. Each person who was present at an event has a different perspective, like piecing together puzzle pieces into a more accurate big picture view. Our kids grow up so fast. There’s a sense of time running out for the older family members: “We’d better get together while they’re still in good health.” Time together is precious and fleeting.
Reunions can be enlightening. After a few glasses of wine in the dark on the porch, secrets can surface. You find out things they’d never reveal on the phone or in email. Advice is given and ignored. Relationships strengthen due to sharing experiences and “what’s-going-on-in-my-life”.
Reunions can shape who is considered part of a family, whether they’re biological relatives, dear friends, or current and former partners and their relatives. Some people aren’t welcome at a reunion, some are missed, some are considered just plain embarrassing… especially by sensitive teens.
Oh, the gamut of feelings associated with family: love and romance, conflict, jealousy, coming of age, tragedy, drama, comedy, old and fresh grievances, joys and sorrows, and on and on.
Is this emotional range why family sagas are so popular with readers? Is it because readers identify with the characters’ problems and goals? Or do they simply love to read about complex family relationships? Or they’d like to discover solutions to their own family issues? Do you love reading stories about families and if so, why?
(This post was originally published at Romancing the Genres on August 13.)