As long as I can remember, traditions have been a HUGE part of my family. We have always done the holidays the same way, we said our dinner blessings a certain way, we even vacationed in the same spots. We weren't boring...we just loved our traditions! One tradition that stands out in my mind, and is still a tradition, is the Mulkey Family Reunion.
Every third Sunday in August was dedicated to my grandmother's side of the family...the Mulkey's. We would wake up early and get ready for church, like normal, but instead of going down the road we would drive an hour and a half north to Nelson, GA. The only thing in Nelson is a marble factory (where my great-grandfather worked), a few homes, and Bethesda Baptist Church. The church is one room with two bathrooms and it sits right in the middle of a large mountain cemetery.
The reunion worked like this:
We would all arrive in the church and sit on or designated sides...Georgia folks sat on the left side of the church, and the Tennessee folks would sit on the right. We would then begin by standing up and introducing ourselves...to our family members...even as a kid this baffled me. After formal introductions, we would listen to the Treasurer of the reunion deliver the minutes from the previous years' reunion. The minutes are approved and new business is brought to the pulpit. After all of this we would sing and have a sermon. All the while the kids would be STARVING! Once the church service was over we would dash out the doors to the open pavilion where we would eat AMAZING southern food. The problem with the pavilion was the only table was used for the food...so we had nowhere else to sit. The kids would all pick a tombstone and eat on it, while the grown ups stood around balancing their plates and drinks. (This must have been before lounge chairs were invented).
Once we were done eating the Georgia cousins were forced to play with the Tennessee cousins in the graveyard. There was not much to do except play hide-and-seek, or pick a lovely bouquet of grave flowers for our moms. (This must have been before bringing-toys-with-you-to-things-like-this was invented). Then it was time to leave...until next year.
That is how I remember the reunion as a kid.
Now I am a grown-up...and we just celebrated the 53rd Annual Mulkey Family Reunion last Sunday.
Only a few things have changed. We now celebrate the reunion the third Sunday in September (so it's three degrees cooler than August), and we eat first (they got tired of hearing us whine). However; the introductions STILL take place, we are still segregated to the GA and TN sides of the church, and the children still love to play in the graveyard. Watching Lilly pick me flowers from someones grave made me smile and cringe at the same time.
Although I make light of my family tradition I know that it is an important one. Each year I see how deeply rooted we are and how my family is truly centered around Christ. I am a very lucky girl.