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Nita Wyatt

A summertime tradition

There are numerous activities that say summer to me and probably to you too. Warm weather, sunshine, golfing, swimming, vacations, etc. are all part of my summer. Another activity that says summer to me and many other people is a family reunion. 

Due to my husband, I participate in a family reunion held by the Richmond branch of his family. The Richmond Family Reunion is held every year on the first Sunday in August. There is never a question about the date, it is always held the same Sunday every year. My dad’s family tried having family reunions, but they were not that good at it. The Richmond family — they have it down — they are professional at having family reunions.

This family runs its reunions like a well-oiled machine. The family elects a president and secretary each year, sometimes retaining those who served the previous year. These are not just “figurehead” positions. The president conducts the family meeting and consults with the secretary throughout the year. The secretary sends out invitations to the reunion, just to make sure that no one is confused about the date, and the secretary records the happenings at the yearly reunion and prepares minutes. Those minutes have been retained for more than 50 years, giving the group a written archives of family events. Such an amazing history for the future of this family.

The actual family reunion consists of several parts. Some of the out-of-town members and some locals gather for dessert on Saturday evening. This gives the group a jumpstart on the festivities of the next day. Sunday morning dawns, and the day begins with a coffee time prior to the noon meal. This coffee time gives participants a chance to talk, look at family photos and catch up on family gossip (I mean “news”).

At noon the family reunion dinner is held. This includes meat, provided by the reunion fund, and then dishes to share are brought by the family attending. I must say, this family knows how to cook.  There are both sweet and savory dishes to indulge in. A now deceased member of the family was always popular for her hot cooler full of corn on the cob and her peanut butter pie for dessert. That peanut butter pie was outstanding! There were, on occasion, heated debates over who was to get the last piece. My tactic was to sneak to the end of the food line and procure my dessert first — a plan that netted me several pieces of this wonderful concoction throughout the years.

After dinner the family reunion meeting is held.  Even the youngest family members listen to this meeting — I suppose they are in training for the time that they will be conducting these meetings. In years gone by, the next activity was some kind of entertainment. That entertainment was as diverse as poetry reading to lip syncing to pottery making to a mock wedding. Yes, a mock wedding. I wasn’t too familiar with what a mock wedding included but this family had it figured out. From the 6-foot, 3-inch male flower girl to the pregnant “female” bride to the shotgun toting “male” father of the bride, it was definitely not your usual wedding. Actually, the video should have been sent in to that TV show — I think it could have won a prize.

It would seem the day would be finished, but there is more to come. The family then holds an auction with family members acting as the auctioneers. The role of auctioneering has been passed to the younger generation, and they have done a great job. Items in the auction include white elephants, special family memorabilia and items made by talented members of the family. What is the money raised used for?  The money raised is used to pay for the reunion venue and the meat dish served at the reunion lunch. 

The family also makes an annual donation to a charity close to the hearts of them all.  You see, this family unfortunately has passed a genetic disease of the eyes down through the generations. Several, now deceased members, lived for many of their adult years in a world of darkness. The disease, named choroideremia is a progressive illness that is passed through the female members of the family to their sons. This genetic disease has affected past generations and is currently affecting some in the younger generation. The family makes an annual donation to The Choroideremia Research Foundation, Inc. in the hopes that their donation will be beneficial for their future generations and those of other families. If you would like further information regarding this illness, visit the foundation’s website at http://choroideremia.org.

All in all, the Richmond Family Reunion is an event not to be missed. Family members travel from as far away as Hawaii and as close as Princeton to attend. I will see you, the Richmond family, on the first Sunday in August.  Does your family have a reunion?  Mark the date on your calendar — you’ll be glad you did!

Nita Wyatt can be reached at golfingfor2@ymail.com.

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