A huge summer tradition for most families is the ever-popular, (oft-times made fun of) reunion. Mentioning this word can trigger a variety of memories. ;) Truthfully, some of my fondest recollections of past summers involve reunions. As I was growing up, I always looked forward to the annual Sibbett reunion. This meant camping in a cool location like Alpine, Wyoming, eating lots of good food, and the yearly program. The Sibbett program involved a lot of music, humorous readings, and dancing. It was usually concluded by my grandfather and his brothers getting up to sing funny songs like, "My Nose Stuck Out a Feet," or the traditional: "Pinto Pony," a song written about the Grays Lake area, the place where they grew up.
I think one of the things I liked the most about this particular reunion was the camaraderie. It was a fun, joyous gathering of relatives. Held in a relaxing atmosphere, there was no set schedule of events, we winged it. When the food was cooked, we ate. If some people wanted to fish in nearby Palisades Lake, they fished. If others wanted to hike around, they explored the numerous trails available. Sometimes we even went swimming. It was understood that on the final day, there would be a huge luncheon where pot luck dishes would be shared. After that meal, the program everyone looked forward to seeing took place. True, our family was made up of lots of hams. We all seemed to have inherited the ability to play musical instruments by ear from my beloved great-grandmother, Genevieve Sibbett. (My mother is named after this awesome woman.)
Genevieve Hocking and her husband, James Lowery Sibbett Jr., established a ranch in Grays Lake. They had ten children, nine of which lived to adulthood. When my grandfather, who was a middle child, was 14 years old, his father passed away unexpectedly of something they called "telescope gut." Now we know it was due to complications of a hiatal hernia, but I digress. My great-grandmother courageously took over running the ranch in 1922 and raised her children on next to nothing. From what I understand, she was a compassionate, fun-loving woman who could play the piano by ear. When the people of Grays Lake gathered for a dance, it was my great-grandmother who provided the music.
I think one of the purposes of family reunions is to keep memories alive of our ancestors. This information doesn't have to be presented in a dry fashion. Each year as we heard stories about the original Genevieve Sibbett, we grew to love and admire a woman we look forward to meeting someday.
Times have changed and with it, reunion formats. Each family is different. Through the years my husband and I have attended a plethora of these events. We have even helped to plan a few of them. In my opinion, the best reunions are those held in a relaxing environment. This gives relatives a chance to unwind, visit, and share tasty food. Sometimes we play games. One year, my husband and I bought a pinata and filled it with pieces of candy. After the big dinner, we hung it up, gathered the young children together, and let them take turns at it with a soft bat. They couldn't break it. So we went to the next generation, giving the teens a chance at it. It was our youngest son, Mr. Athlete, who finally gave it a whack that showered candy on the waiting children. This event provided quite a bit of entertainment for everyone who attended that year.
This year my family is in charge of the annual Glenn Sibbett reunion. (this reunion involves my mother's siblings and their families) We decided early on that we were meeting at Lava. People can either camp in one of the local campgrounds, or rent a room, or show up on the "big" day when we will once again enjoy yummy food, perhaps a short program, and something that we've recently started doing, an auction. Everyone brings craft items or things like home-made fudge for this event. During the auction, people bid on whatever they want and the money raised goes toward next year's reunion. (This money is spent on food, pop, etc. for the main meal)
The main thing we're after is a chance to relax, visit, and enjoy each other's company. We may even share a story or two about great-grandma Sibbett in the hopes that our posterity will keep her memory alive.
In the rush of these busy latter-days, we are unfortunately seeing a decline with this important tradition. What can we do to keep family reunions alive and well? What are some of your favorite memories of past reunions?
Welcome to Crane-ium: thoughts, poetry, lyrics & photography of Cheri J. Crane
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