I have a lot of first cousins on my mother's side of the family. My grandmother birthed 17 children, four died in infancy. I never knew my Aunt Helen, she died before I was born but I knew the rest of mother's siblings. There are only four of my mother's siblings still living.
Over the years, we've gathered for a lot of funerals, often in clusters. My mother died two weeks after her oldest sister, my Aunt Mabel. After my mother's funerals we (a group of first cousins) gathered and mused as to why we had never held a family reunion. We decided to rectify this oversight and give ourselves a reason to come together other than to bury someone. The Hall (my mother's maiden name) family reunion committee was formed, consisting of my sister Rhonda, my brother James (aka Jimmy), and my cousins, Michelle, Jennifer, Betty Rose, and Laura Ann. By the third planning call the group had reduced to me, Michelle, Jennifer, and Betty Rose. The others had succumbed to the dreaded family reunion planning committee dropout syndrome.
After months of the family reunion planning committee meeting via bi-weekly conference calls, we held our first Hall Family reunion from July 3-July 5. It was well attended with 80+ family members joining in the festivities. We talked, we ate, we sang and we danced. Members of my grandmother's family, the Flemings, also participated in the reunion and I got to meet people whose names I had only heard in family stories told by my grandmother. Then there were those of us who knew each other but had not been together other than for a funeral in years and it was a delight to reconnect in an atmosphere that didn't involve sorrow. In an email to my friend Mark, I summed it up thus: "Our family reunion went well. Only one relative drank too much and she wasn't a mean drunk. There were no fights, and only a few minor insults. We may do it again in two years."
I neglected to add that I did The Twist with my cousin Betty Rose in front of a room full of people, laughed loudly and often, hugged a lot and was hugged a lot in return, and that a good time was had by all.