Family Reunions

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On Memorial Weekend, I went to the annual White Family Reunion in Bowie, Texas, held for all the descendants and cousins of the late Ben and Josie White. There were several cousins there, some second cousins, as well as an uncle and an aunt. There were lots of little kids running around, and a few big kids as well.

We adults sit around and tell stories and jokes and the little kids fish for crawdads with string and bacon and everyone has a high old time … except me. I don’t like reunions. I only go to this one—every four or five years—because it means so much to my father for me to be there.

I don’t like college reunions, either. I’ve been twice (every nine years, like clockwork) and I come away every time muttering, “Never again.” I like reading history books but I guess I’m just not that interested in my history. College was a lot of fun and it got me where I am today (you can take that how you like) but I don’t need to relive it. The two reunions I have been to involved a bunch of rapidly-approaching-middle-aged guys sitting around and telling the same stories they told nine years ago. Stories about the time Cuss Williams (no, it wasn’t a nickname) famously called all the girls “cows” and got away with it or the guy that was sneaking into the dorm after curfew and gave himself away because he was playing the James Bond theme on the guitar he was carrying.

The thing is: I don’t just know those stories, I lived them. And while it was kind of fun to recall them, I’m tired of recalling them. I’d much rather talk about what’s going on now. So I go to these reunions and I ask people how their kids are doing and what they do for a living now, and, pretty soon, we’re just talking about the past again.

Yes, I know the old saying about how, “People who don’t learn from history are doomed to do poorly on their S.A.T.s” but I prefer to think about the future. What are we going to do next? What am I going to do next?

Reunions aren’t about the future, though. They’re about the past. What I suppose I’m looking for is a reunion of people I haven’t met, yet. All those people I’m going to meet over the next twenty years need to get together somewhere fun (I vote for the River Bend Condo in Breckenridge, Colorado, but I’m not on the planning committee) and discuss what we’re going to do in the next two decades. We can talk about the kids and grandkids we’re going to have, who we will vote for, and what debilitating diseases we’re going to come down with—and the triumphal stories of our conquering of said diseases.

Maybe if that’s what I want, that’s what I should make happen. So, if you don’t see me around for the next few days, it’s probably because I’m in Breckenridge, pre-reminiscing with total strangers.

Or, sitting at home eating the Cool Whip straight out of the container.