I attended my family reunion last weekend. Actually, The Hubster, Rachel and Drew and I all traveled to Missouri to be there. It was Drew's first family reunion with us...the poor baby!
My parents grew up in a tiny town in the heart of north central Missouri. Hale is idyllic: a throwback to a simpler, more gentle era. This rural community is surrounded by farms lush with green pastures and hearty livestock. The rolling hillside hides this little jewel. It is protected from the cold, outside world.
We all gathered in Chillicothe, the nearest large city. Large is a relative term: Chillicothe's population is 9,000. They do have a Best Western, so we stay there. My mom's family tries to meet every other year. Twenty-nine people showed up this time. It wasn't the whole family, just part of this motley crew!
On Friday evening, after arriving in town, we attended a cookout at my Aunt Nancy and Uncle Barry's house in Chillicothe. While feasting on burgers, brats and hot dogs, we caught up with each other, watched the kids play in the pool, and got a cool demo of my Uncle Barry's classic electric train sets. They're so neat!
Lunch Saturday was a picnic in Simpson Park. This is a great park. Lots of trees, nice pavilions, a pool and a playground. Even the restrooms are good. After lunch and lots of visiting, we held the annual Ballew Olympics. This year it was a scavenger hunt. My sister, Laura, was in charge. She divided us into three teams, gave each a list and set the clock at 20 minutes. Rules? What are those? It was dog-eat-dog, ending in a two-way tie.
My mom treated the whole family to a big get-together on Saturday night at the Hale Community Hall, home of many past Ballew Family Reunions. The nice owner of the Hale Diner next door supplied burgers with all the fixings. Afterward we talked, played games and listened to music. Some of the kids even tried to recreate Napoleon Dynamite's dance moves. My family's dark secret is that we make playing the card game, Spoons, into a bloodsport.
Sunday morning saw my mom's family attending worship services at Hale United Methodist Church (the church my mom grew up in). Some of the old timers still remember our family there. It was a really nice service with a nice homey feel. Afterwards we drove to the cemetery where my dad is buried. Some of the family had not seen the headstone since it had been placed. It's such a serene location.
Getting together with your family now and then is good. It's important to touch bases with those of you who share each other's blood (and bad genes!). It's exhausting with all the travel and gathering and coordinating schedules, but it's worth it. You only get one family!
The photo is of my brother, David Monson, on the far left, nephew Clayton Anderson in the center, and his father (my cousin) Brian Anderson, on the right.