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End of Summer: ‘The Family Reunion’

September 8th, 2010 No comments

Summer is drawing to a close. The ‘unofficial end’ of summer, Labor Day, has just passed; but for my entire family, there’s a different defining line between summer and fall: the annual Hicks-Day Family Reunion.

Always held the Sunday after Labor Day, our ‘family picnic,’ as many of us refer to it, is a pot-luck gathering of descendants of the Hicks and Day families, two New England families united by marriage at the beginning of the last century. It is a long-standing family tradition, involving multiple generations. As a child in central Massachusetts I would look forward to the event, where my sisters and I would gather with our numerous young cousins and race around my grandmother’s Northborough home and property. We’d run around like a little wolf pack as the adults readied food and exchanged news; invariably some kid would slip and fall into the stream or pond on the property and emerge slippery and fishy-smelling and in need of dry garb. Eventually it was time to eat, and there was always an abundance of tasty riches awaiting: ‘mysterious’ casseroles and salads, hot dogs or hamburgers, and desserts – luscious, homemade desserts, many courtesy of our grandmother, the family matriarch. As we kids gorged ourselves on multiple desserts, the adults would gather for the ‘executive committee’ meeting, where they discussed the family business, including births or deaths, momentous news of loved ones, and the details of the Reunion treasury, which was fed each year by a ‘Guess the Number” raffle of a jar full of beans. Sated with sweets, the kids were lured into the ‘games’ part of the picnic, which involved age-appropriate events like ‘find the buried coins,’ ‘three legged races’ as well as ‘water-balloon toss’ for the older kids.

If it sounds suspiciously like a Norman Rockwell painting, that’s probably because it was. After all, Rockwell was a Bay-stater as well – who’s to say he hadn’t had the same fun we were having while he was growing up? Because of the baby boom, the Hicks-Day Family Reunion was very well attended during the 1960s and early 70s. A lull in attendance ensued as the younger generation dealt with beginning their own families, but now the Family Reunion is experiencing somewhat of a second wind as cousins and their kids return after being absent for a few years.

I’ve written about family reunions before in this blog. They offer a great chance to learn things about your family history from your elders and other family members. If you don’t already have a regular reunion of family, consider a pot-luck, casual gathering like the venerable Hicks-Day Family Reunion. It will give you a better appreciation of who you are and where you come from – not to mention those desserts!!