This week I wanted to write about something dear to my heart. My family. Every year at the end of June my family gets together for a family reunion. Our main meeting spot for the last 40 years has been Leo Carrillo State Beach Campground in California. Some members come in for a week, some just for a few days and then there are those who come in only for the dinner on Saturday, No matter where family come from or how long they stay, the family reunion is always a time we all look forward to. Not just because we get to spend time at a beautiful spot along the coast, but because of the faces we see when we get there. These people are part of our history. A part of who we are. This family is built on love and support which is tried and true. This tradition of connection has deep roots and began way before the summer reunions by a little old lady, in her little old house with her collection of pies.
My great-grandmother believed in family. She knew the importance of keeping a family together so every year she would invite family to her house for Christmas Dinner. I don’t remember those get togethers very well, because I was young, but I heard it was a time for people to visit, play games, and eat pie. I’m sure there was other food but the main attraction were the pies. My great-grandmother would bake pies all year long and freeze them until the Christmas Dinner. Family from far a way would spend the night piled in where ever they could lay their head. Finally , the family became too large to fit into great-grandma’s one bedroom house. Other options were tried but nothing was quite the same. Sadly, great-grandma Pippenger passed away but from her commitment to family a new tradition was birthed, the summer family reunion.
The Pippenger Summer Family Reunion began over 40 years ago from our family’s need to continue to be a part of each other’s lives. I remember as a young child, I would go to sleep snuggled up in my sleeping bag listening to the popping of the campfire and the mummer of the adults talking as I lay in my tent wondering what exciting thing would happen the next day. I remember silly pranks, grunion hunting, days hanging out at the beach, and years later playing “spoons” after making smores by the fire with my own kids. Now as my own children have become adults, I look forward to seeing my grand children experience the same family togetherness.
This weekend we will greet each other with hugs and joy as we look upon the faces of those who are so dear to us. Yet there will be a certain longing as we think about those who are far away and remember the faces of the people who are no longer with us physically; nevertheless , we know they are all with us in spirit.
Although, this year we are at another location, our family knows that it is the people who make the “reunion magic”. Whether we are together in a small one bedroom house or on the coast of somewhere beautiful, the connection of love and support is what binds this family. Great-grandma Pippenger knew the importance of family and I know it is up to my generation to keep it going strong so that years from now another generation will experience the same family love that draws them back year after year.