The Therapy Journals of the Fat-Headed Klingon Woman

One woman's journey to becoming Her True Self

Family Traditions Series- Reunions!! August 6, 2014

Filed under: Family,In Memoriam — DDKlingonGirl @ 9:19 am
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My Roots- Kyle and Ethel Findley and their children, Harold, Howard, Margie, and Donna

My Roots- Kyle and Ethel Findley and their children, Harold, Howard, Margie, and Donna

Hello all!  So in my last Family Traditions series entry, I promised a post about all the crazy things my family gets up to in the month of May, and I will definitely deliver that.  But not now.  I’m too excited, and of course the title of this post will give you a clue as to why.  Oh, yes, Virginia, it is definitely that time again- our family reunion is this weekend.  This is an event not just limited to my crazy nuclear family  (my parents and siblings and myself).  Oh no.  This event draws in the whooooole crazy family- all the progeny of my great-grandfather Kyle Guy Findley.  Let me tell you about us.


We have this family reunion, the Findley reunion, every two years.  It alternates years with an even more extended family reunion (the Hoffman reunion) we have that also occurs every two years, so that barring some weird complication or problem, there is some sort of reunion on this side of the family every single year.  The one I am going to be describing to you is the only one I have been able to go to since Daughter S. and Daughter J. were about 4 years old, which, sadly, was the last time I was able to make it to the Hoffman reunion.  Now, the Hoffman reunion has one advantage over the Findley reunion and that is that it’s always in the same place, Ulysses, Kansas, where I was born.  The Findley reunion has changed locations several times over the years.


As far as I can remember, the tradition of this reunion began the weekend of June 4, 1993.  I know this, because that was the date I chose to get married, so that all the family would definitely be able to be there.  Yeah, I’m sneaky and manipulative like that.  I hijacked the family reunion so everyone would be at my wedding.  Anyway.  The first several years, the reunion took place at the same location, one of the group campgrounds at our local lake.  Rustic cabins, no A/C, lots of trees and a big lake for boating, skiing, tubing, jet skis, and just general tomfoolery in a water setting.  I say this because my mom’s brothers have a notorious history of being wild and crazy when it comes to water sports.  They like to go fast and hit hard.  They’ve slowed down a little in the last 21 years, but I cannot count the number of pics we have of Uncle R., Uncle B., and Uncle D., life-jackets on, hair and mustaches dripping, clinging to a jet ski or a sailboard, big huge identical grins on their sunburnt faces.  That tradition has extended to their sons now, and we have just as many pictures of cousins in the same poses.


While the boys are out running wild like hooligans on the lake, the moms are usually staying behind, either in the camp kitchen, or at the water’s edge watching all the “little ‘uns” swimming and playing.  There is always a time when the guys put away all their fast toys and just take the girls on a leisurely evening boat ride around the lake, so it’s not like the moms never get to have fun.  Back in the day, my mother, I am proud to say, used to be able to water ski like crazy!  My dad would get her out there and hit the throttle and she could just pop up out of the water like a cork.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember the last time she tried, because we don’t go to the lake much anymore these days when it’s just us, but she always used to say she planned to water ski on her 100th birthday.  Dad used to say she “could water ski in a teacup!”  Rarely, we have bad things happen on the water.  One year, an uncle was pushed unexpectedly off the pontoon boat into the water, and his wedding ring got caught on the gate hinge, almost ripping his finger off.  They rushed him to the hospital and all was fine, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t like to remember that particular reunion.


Our family also has some much happier traditions, such as talent night; we’re a talented bunch, if I do say so myself.  Usually people either sing or do skits, which is always a hoot.  This year, I’m particularly excited because… da da!  We’re having karaoke Saturday night.  We’ve hired a local karaoke DJ to come out to the reunion and help us party for a couple of hours.  I am very familiar with this particular lady- we grew up and went to the same church together.  And boy! can she sing.  She is absolutely and utterly amazing.  (File that one under hashtag: sojealous!)  Anyway, she also provided the DJ service when I gave Daughter S. and Daughter J. a big, special party when they turned 18.  It was super awesome, but that’s another story.


Once we had a family auction to try to raise funds for the next reunion.  People made arts and crafts, special food, anything they had that had a “market” value, so to speak, and we auctioned them.  My personal contribution to that effort was two copies of a collection of my poetry that I put together.  I think they made me stand up and read a couple of the poems, and then they auctioned them off.  I forget now who won them, but that was pretty cool.  It gave me a bit of a big head to know that my family members would pay money just to read my romanticized, dramatic drivel.   What can I say?  We’re a supportive bunch, and I love us.


In other years, the family reunion has taken place down near my grandpa’s house in the Hill Country area around San Antonio, Texas.  There are a number of nice lakes there, and my grandpa lives right on the Guadalupe river, so there are always a few that go floating every time we are there.  Our last reunion was a bit of a departure.  We met at Cuchara, Colorado.  It was beautiful there and so cool at night, but always, always too short.  One weekend is never long enough to enjoy with this family.


So THIS year, we’re at a church camp about 45 minutes from where we live, called Pettijohn Springs Christian Camp.  It will be a lot more comfortable than the lake camps, because (Hallelujah!) the cabins have air conditioning.  My cousin and I are the food committee (although my mother ALWAYS ends up doing more than her share of the research and planning) and therein lies another reason I am so excited:  she’ll be here tomorrow!  Yay!  I know we’re not supposed to have favorites, but she is one of my two favorite cousins, because the three of us are the closest in age.  From my birthday in early September to her birthday in mid-September, we are all three the same age.  Tomorrow when she gets here, we have to spend all day grocery shopping.  I’d like to say that sounds like a chore, but running all over town with this particular cousin, making big fools of ourselves in all the local grocery stores, laughing like hyenas when we remember all our favorite escapades, just sounds like a really good day.


So yeah, if you live around here, and tomorrow you see me and someone who kind of looks like me, staggering breathless with laughter through WalMart or Homeland or Aldi, with a cart piled high with groceries, now you know, it’s the Findley Family Reunion Food Committee, just doing their duty to our family to keep them from starving.  And having a darn good time while we’re at it! Ha!


The last, and most special tradition that you will always hear mentioned whenever we talk about our family and the essence of who we are, either together or apart, is our family church service.  On the last day of the reunions, Sunday, we always have a family worship time together.  I have said many times that I am so proud of the fact that I come from a family with a strong tradition of faith.  In past years, one of my mom’s cousins would get up and share a few scriptures and a few words with the family, then my wonderful, beautiful grandfather, the family patriarch, would get up and speak, talking about our family history and maybe sharing a story or two about his parents, and praising our family for its strength and love, but always giving the glory for that to God.  We would sing a few hymns, and be dismissed with a prayer.  This year, my father will be leading the singing, and we have practiced some of the songs we will be sharing.  In past years, my dear grandpa and his siblings would share their beautiful family harmony and sing an old hymn called “Out of the Ivory Palaces” but now he is the last of his family.  He told my mother he didn’t feel as comfortable now even to get up and speak at the worship service because he has become so forgetful it is hard for him to keep his thoughts organized.


Families stay the same, and families change.  Our reunions are so special because they allow us to spend just a few treasured moments together, to catch up on each others lives and see where we all are today, but more than that, they remind us where we came from, where our roots began.  We are reminded of the strength and determination of the pioneer fathers who came through the Civil Wars and the Dust Bowls, and the Depressions, whose simple lives and strong faith became our story.  We are reminded of them, and of the debt we owe them to live our lives in such a way that we carry on their legacy, that our children and grandchildren can look back on us and be proud that they are the continuation of a story worth telling.


Until next time,




2 Responses to “Family Traditions Series- Reunions!!”

  1. debbie Says:

    you are awsome. I bet you know tears are running down my face. I love the way you can write what we feel, when most of the time I don’t even know what I am feeling. thanks

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