Saturday, August 3, 2013

Faith, Music, Laughter and Grace: Roots and Heritage (Reed Family Reunion)

Did I mention these blogs I've been posting lately are "catch up" blogs?!  A week or so ago we got back from our trip to Colorado for our family reunion.  The last reunion was back when Claire was about 5 weeks old and they had agreed to do the next one 3 years later.  It was a little hard to believe that the tiny baby I was holding would be a preschooler the next time we all got together but, sure enough, even that next reunion has come and gone.
I had been excited to go on vacation and do something for a long time and the fact that nearly the entirety of my mom's family was going to all be on this vacation was really exciting.  I love this family. Love them.  We are not without drama.  Any of them will tell you that, but we all really do care about one another and when everyone is together, there's no shortage of "faith, music (who else has a family that will spontaneously start singing hymns around the piano?!), laughter (um, yeah) and lots and lots of grace."  The event planners really got it right when they picked that theme.
But first, we had to get there.  Our original plan was to take a long road trip.  We had planned on driving out to Zion, staying at the Zion Lodge with the girls for a night or two and then driving out to Colorado.  I was so excited to share Zion with the girls and be back there at one of my favorite places on earth.  But a few weeks before the reunion, we sat down to plan and the more we planned and priced things out, the more we discovered that the trip would cost more if we drove than if we flew due to all the hotel stays, gas, food and Christian not getting paid for a large chunk of the trip.  So, reluctantly, we looked up some tickets on Frontier Airlines and booked three tickets to Denver (Ashlyn is still free).  Bummed, but it also meant more time in CO with family so it turned out to be an okay trade off.
Mary and Claire looking out our room window
The girls did fine on the airplane.  It was Claire's second flight and Ashlyn's first.  Claire travels like a champ. I wasn't concerned and I had not reason to be.  She read, looked out the window, colored and talked to the poor woman that got put next to her on the flight out.  Ashlyn, however, I wasn't so sure about.  But she surprised me.  Ashlyn did ok looking at books and eventually fell asleep on the way out in my arms.  Luckily, it was only a 2 hour or so flight.  Hats off to those of you who take babies and toddlers on international flights.
Our reunion was at a place called "The Hideaway"  in Monument, CO.  The property is in a really nice, quiet location.  Most of our family made it and we really felt the absence of several of our family members who could not. There were things for the younger kids to do, a playhouse, a playground and lots of space to play and run.
The girls did pretty well with the schedule disruption of vacation and adapted fairly well to the new scenery. The girls really didn't do too back sleeping in the same room with us, although, there were a few naptimes where I watched on the monitor where they were doing significantly more playing than napping.  My favorite morning was waking up to Ashlyn, standing in the Pack N Play The Hideaway provided for us, with her little pj pants half down.  She was jabbering away, looking out the window at the Colorado morning.  While I'd have liked to sleep a little more, I won't forget her wonder anytime soon.
Reunion activities consisted of lots of catching up and talking, games (a Family Feud game for my generation fueled by answers from my parents generation and grandparents' generation, Minute to Win It) and mealtimes.  We became reacquainted with each other and with the history of our family, even history that delved several generation and hundreds of years back, thanks to my cousin and her hard work on our family's history and our ancestry

  One thing I appreciate about my mom's family is their concern with and recognition of the fact that leaving legacy is a very important thing.  To bring many of my readers up to speed, the reunion centered around the Reeds, my grandma's family.  My grandma is in the middle of 6 (5 girls and 1 boy. . .the last) and the family that comes to the reunion are the descendants of those 6 siblings.  There was a lot of talk and storytelling during the reunion about Mamaw (my great-grandma) and Papa (my great-grandpa) and the legacy they left.  I remember looking around the room at this fun, wonderful, yet totally imperfect, group and pondering the legacy those two left raising those 6 children.  They told a story about how the youngest, the boy, when he was very young, nearly opened the front door of the house for a church member when Mamaw was bathing in the living room.  Why was Mamaw bathing in the living room?!  That's what you did.  No separate bathroom with a shower or tub and not a whole lot of money to do anything about it.  And yet, these 6 children grew up, married, raised children of their own, who, in turn, grew up raised children and now 4 generations of people sit and talk and laugh and share grace and stories of the legacy of faith, music, laughter and grace this family of 8 left.  I find it crazy what we expect, as a nation and as a generation.  There's such a sense of entitlement.   Parents don't want to raise 1 child, let alone 6 without making sure all of their financial ducks are in a row.  Riches in faith, love and legacy last longer and produce better fruit than anything else. I remember when Mamaw died when I was in high school, one of my mom's cousins, spoke at the funeral and said, "You know, we Reeds aren't perfect, but when we are all together there's a lot of laughter and a lot of love." I've seen this truth with my own eyes, this very summer.
 I'm grateful my girls have this family.  I think I've mentioned this before in my writing but if not, I'm sorry. This family that isn't afraid to have fun, a family that accepts you as family, no matter how you got there, whether by blood, by marriage or by adoption and who accepts the prodigals back with open arms.  It's pretty amazing, really.
After the reunion weekend was over, we spent the next three days at my cousin's.  The kids had a great time together and Christian's most memorable moment was going out shooting with my cousin's husband (although, he really could have used a slather of sunscreen) and the girls went mini golfing for the first time.

 The flight home was a bit of a disaster, but we survived.  When we got to the Denver Airport, we were greeted by a very long check in line.  By the time we got to the front, we were 15 min too late to check in (they cut you off 45 min before your flight. So we got more more meal with my cousin, Laura before we came back to the airport to fly out at 5:00pm (our original flight was at 1pm).  The girls were exhausted, but they did fine.  While it's good to be home, it was very hard to get back to reality.  Missing everyone already.  Hope they plan another one soon.

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