Family Gatherings; Once Upon A Time
Nothing takes the place of close bond extended family ties.
Family gatherings create family bonding and keep the communication connection and ties.
These gatherings kept the family unit together creating comprehensive communication and togetherness.
Because of circumstances and distance, family’s are loosing the closeness of the large extended family ties.
To keep this closeness we try to stay in contact with each other via the social media: smart phones, internet such as Facebook, twitter, Skype to name a few.
Back In Time
I want to take you back in time to our ‘family gatherings’.
These gatherings happened on holidays throughout the year. This gave is an excuse to get together.
Our family gatherings were large get-togethers – all was invited – without special invitation – after all we were all family and didn’t need ‘invitations’! You knew it was going to happen and came! You just needed to know where……..
Most were blood relatives, but we also included the married spouse’s family.
We never knew how many or who would show up at any one time, but throughout the year we would see most of our relatives.
Nowdays – you spend one day with your relatives and the next holiday is with your spouse’s.
Our family get gatherings included everyone.
Because we were a large family, for our get together’s we sometimes rented a hall or went to the Denver City Park.
At Christmas Eve and birthday’s was in granny’s house.
All Family members were included. When we had our gatherings in granny’s house, it was crowded (and you brought a chair to sit on) if it was in the summer it spilled to outside! Renting a building, such as the Elks or Moose Lodge or went to the Denver City Park made it more convenient to be able to include everyone in comfort.
All kinds of pickles; sweet pickles, bread and butter pickles, relish, pickled beats and every kind of home made other condiment you can think of, all of which were home made.
Homemade ice cream was a really big treat and always looked forward to.
Lemonade, limeade, orange juice, ice tea, hot coffee, hot tea, milk, buttermilk, water.
Take the Day of July 4 - any year
This is when you would learn all the news of what was happening with all of our families. It was an exciting and busy time.
On Independence Day we went to the Denver City Park.
Several of the younger guys would go there and stake out an area for our family gathering.
We liked a particular place and in order to get this area, someone had to get there early.
They would gather picnic tables and tried to save parking spaces for our vehicles.
Each family would bring folding table and chairs.
Some would put tables in the back of their pickup along with chairs to unload at our picnic spot.
I don’t remember cameras and -- video cameras were a thing of the future.
If We Rented A Hall
We would have a poker game going, a table of canasta, a table of Monopoly and a table of people visiting and catching up on the family news.
Always had a piano or a portable organ, so we could have our music with my Aunt playing the organ or piano.
I would be singing, with others joining in now and then.
We would have a table or two of moms just talking, maybe crocheting or embroidering.
Kids running around playing tag, giggling and laughing.
Usually a baby or two fussing and being passed around.
Moms would be giving advice and hints to the newer moms.
Someone would be reading the newspaper.
One of the women would be passing out coffee and pastries.
We even had a few who drank beer.
No cameras, no video cameras or smart phones – so unfortunately we have no pictures.
At City Park
The men would be playing softball, or sitting around and having a chat and drinking coffee.Catching up with all the news, political and personal and bragging about their fishing, hunting, work or kids.
The might even be a friendly game of poker.The younger men would be taking kids to the city zoo or playing catch with them.
Some of the moms would be taking some of the kids to look at all the flowers in the park.
Kids would be wrestling or playing tag, there was always doing something going on.
Someone always brought a camp stove to make the hot dishes plus the hot coffee that was always available.
The tables were all in a row lined up so you could stroll around them and pick out exactly what you wanted to eat.
There would be a separate table set up for washing hands with soap and towels to use when needed and before eating.
At Each Gathering
The women would wear their latest new dress or new hat.
Everyone would be dressed up looking our very best.
They would tell what new recipes worked and liked and the ones they didn’t.
They would share their newest recipes.
They would tell what grew best and what didn’t in their garden.
We would have freshly made breads and buns made with white wheat or bran with homemade butter.
Each family brought their family’s favorite complete picnic meal and it could be any combination of:
- Fried chicken, fresh vegetables, potato salad, tomatoes, cucumbers, baked beans, green beans, peas, corn on the cob, or fresh corn off the cob, lots of fresh fruit, and freshly canned fruit, different kinds of salads, different kinds of pies, cookies or cakes. There would be every kind of berry pie, pumpkin pie, apple pie available and all kinds of different cookies freshly made and maybe a dozen or more different kinds of cake.
If religious or political arguments occurred – my dad settled the argument!
His word was final! (He didn’t speak often, but when he did he was closely listened to.)
You would hear grown-ups talking about the local political concerns and how they could be solved.
You would hear about the latest crazy fad the younger generation was doing.
If we were indoors, it lasted until midnight. If it was at the park it lasted until sundown.
Family members would get to the park starting in the morning and stay all day, leaving when it started getting dark.
We left our park or rental (Moose or Elks) clean and everything put back the way it was.
Everyone was very considerate and helped each other carrying, packing, setting up and storing things for home. Everyone worked together to make it successful and enjoyable.
Lots of laughter, talk and each family working together to get things done.
If we didn’t have a holiday to get together we celebrated birthdays.
We loved the camaraderie to get together with family. These kept our family ties strong.
If we showed up on a weekend at granny’s, other family members would show up. Don’t know how this happened – it just did. Family ties were very strong.
There was joy, laughter and love and always plenty of food to eat. Freshly home made bread and home churned butter, jam and jelly - yummy.
Our family relationship and gatherings are a thing of the past.
Knowing and learning about extended relatives, their quirks, good traits and bad traits is a good learning experience. It teaches how to deal with different people.
Strength of Family Ties
The strength of having family ties is knowing that if you needed help, it was only a family member away.
You needed help on painting your house – no problem family members showed and did this for a meal and visit without being asked. Now we have to hire someone to get this work done.
You need help with your garage roof – no problem family members showed up and made a fast job along with enriching family ties.
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
Families don’t kick or ostracize individuals; you learn how to deal with them.
You learn all the nitty gritty little details and you shared them together – the good, the bad and the ugly.
Family members don’t take a vote and have someone ostracized, you learn how to deal with difficult personalities.
In other organizations, members don’t like someone’s behavior? You vote and kick them out and tell them they can’t come anymore.
Yes, there was family spats and arguments, but the next time we were still family!
Yes, kids fought with each other, but you learned how to get along.
The next time you saw that person, you were glad to see them and a big hug settled former spats.
You didn’t leave in a snit, that was not how family members acted.
You apologized, you forgave and you loved them and continued on - because we were family.
What You Learned
Family gatherings were where you learned social graces and how to get along, tolerate and understand differences.
This experience created the bonding of blood relatives and the strength this creates within a family.
What Has Been Lost
Family was important.
No family get-togethers make weakening family ties.
Knowing your 1st 2nd and 3rd cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents is about family ties and genealogy.
BUT - you can’t miss - what you haven’t experienced.
how your family spend their time,
their likes and dislikes.
what a family member loves to do.
whether you love to hug someone.
what you like to eat.
what you do in the evenings.
what you do in your time off.
who your friends are.
get to know your dreams.
if you like your job.
if you want to make a change with your job.
what you and your love argue about.
what you love about each other.
if you are teaching your kids respect.
what you are teaching your kids.
Knowing this kind of intimate knowledge with all you close family members makes close family ties.
Family and Relatives
You can choose your friends, but you didn’t choose your relatives.
Relatives, you have for life ---
What's It All About
You know the intimate details and love them in spite of differences.
This is where you learn tolerance.
You learn what it means to be a close knit blood relative.
You create a bond that lasts over time.