I recently attended the family reunions of both my paternal and maternal side. They were two very different events. On my paternal side was an annual celebration where no less than 500 people, all with the same last name, are in attendance. The proceedings are very predictable and one that I am familiar with since my childhood. This is why even if it is a huge crowd, it still feels like family. There is a certain comfort in knowing that the family hymn is still sung and sung by almost the same roster of old ladies. That it will always be a lauriat meal every year, that there always will be prizes raffled off before the party ends. For my parents, this annual event should never be missed.
From my maternal side was a birthday celebration. Now this one is very rare. Busy with our separate lives, we tend to keep to ourselves even if most of the family is in Cebu, even during special occassions. So when a cousin of mine decided to throw a bash for his now 77 – year old mother, my AE (Auntie) Hayling, it was a really pleasant surprise. We all wore the requisite red. We all had a great time catching up with each other, old uncles and aunts getting to know their fast growing nephews and nieces, and just plain enjoying each other’s company.
I have always wondered why most people feel uncomfortable with reunions. Mine is not a perfect family but I have always cherished it. Family keeps me grounded. It reminds me that I have roots. That I belong to a larger community who share my heritage and who will share in my journey to the future. Family gives me a sense of purpose. It encourages me to strive to become better and better knowing that we all are interdependent. Family keeps me safe. It is that warm, bright and happy place that you retreat to everyday, in your heart.
So be it a big family gathering of 500 or just my little family of 5, I am there. Always!
How about you? Do you like going to family gatherings? What kind of feelings do family reunions evoke in you?