We didn't have a big extended family growing up. The Massachusetts Collinses splintered from the Ohio Collinses in the '40s. There are McFarlands in Vermont and upstate New York, but I don't know them very well. My wife and children are the only connection to Minnesota. I've got cousins scattered in the wind, but in the age of travel, it's hard enough to keep even the direct family tied together, and the truth is: we don't do a very good job of it.
So it's heartwarming to read today's Minnesota Prairie Roots post by the esteemed Audrey Kletscher Helbling on the family reunion of the descendants of Rudolph and Mathilda Kletscher in Vesta.
Despite the feelings of closeness evoked at a reunion, the reality is that we are connected now primarily by memories and blood, not by the intertwining of our lives today. For the most part, we've moved away from the prairie and see each other only at the reunion or at the funerals of family members.
Several years ago, my sister Lanae and I decided we needed to infuse new energy into the reunion if we were to keep the next generation interested in remaining connected. That meant offering activities which would create memories. And so we, and other family members, have planned games. This year was no exception.
A lot of high falutin' technology conspires to drive extended families apart. Sometimes it only takes a gunnysack to bring them back together.
I have a pretty small family and most of us are in Minnesota, but that doesn't mean I see them very often. If no one dies, I won't see my cousins for an entire year. That is, until the family reunion. Every year my mom's side of the family goes up the lake my mom and her twin sister both own cabins on. We play a lot of bocce ball and drink an obscene amount of alcohol. Ipads are used and we watched Wrestlemania on DVD this year, but for the most part, it is good old fashioned fun.