Family reunions seem to be having a rebirth especially among African/American families. Family reunions were very important in my youth. I discuss one such reunion in particular in my book, Our Father: Discovering Family. These reunions give us a sense of who we are and where we came from. How I wish that I had paid closer attention to the old stories when I was a boy.

A few years back I started attending my grandmother’s family reunions again. Of course she is long gone and so are all of her brothers and sisters. Only the “kids” are left and most of them are long in the tooth like me. My sister’s birthday falls close to this one, but she threatens my life if I reveal it to the group. This one has been thriving for more than fifty years.

The family of my dad’s sister started having a family reunion a couple of years ago. Maybe there is a resurgence of the practice among Caucasians. It seems to me that the scarier our world becomes the need for closeness with family becomes stronger. In those bygone days, all of the food that was served was home made. You knew whose fried chicken or coconut cake was the best. Now everything comes from the colonel or Publix Supermarket. Nothing remotely compares to my mother’s fried chicken or Aunt Alice’s pineapple upside-down cake.

My Uncle Calvin told the best good old day’s tales and Cousin Virgil told the biggest whoppers. The children were not hothouse plants in those bygone days and didn’t need underfoot supervision; therefore the grownups could have real conversations. The laughter was contagious. Most of all you knew that you belonged. Birthdays, anniversaries and graduations were celebrated. New babies were passed from aunt to aunt. The absence of the recently departed were noted. Many of the attendees were late because their church service had lasted longer. Some were late because they are always late. One thing has not changed. Someone always returns thanks before anyone eats.