The first family reunion that I attended was in the 1960s. It occurred at the site of an old country church in the woods. A cemetery was nearby and some of the attendees had placed wreaths on the graves. Just about everything that they said and did that day reminded me of an era long ago, before I was born. The smiling faces of the genteel spirits who greeted me with their frequent questions “Did you try my dish?” Every dish was a special creation, indeed, a memorable family recipe not found in a book anywhere. The lovely old-fashioned dresses and straw hats was a reminder of kinder days.
I scarcely knew anyone when I arrived, yet upon my departure, knew everyone!
Eventually, I decided to sponsor a reunion for my own family, once again held in the country on High Shoals Road (Dallas, Georgia) where so many Hollands had resided, near the old school house, church, a cemetery and waterfall. If I had wished that my own immediate family would find value in the event, the spirit of the new adventure spun into play. Someone wanted to sing “Amazing Grace”, so we all gathered around the piano and gave it a hearty verse.
I had brought my recently finished Holland book to the party. The information had been gleaned from my visits with relatives (and county records) and unknown kin around High Shoals Road. I remember that the visits had been rather cool, as the old people did not reveal much information. Nonetheless, I included everyone’s data in my book of less than 200 pages. As the day went along, people became interested in the book. “Where are my relatives?” They asked. Little did I realize at the time, but this first reunion would deliver many family connections and genealogies into my hands. It seemed that everyone wanted to be in the book. In essence, they wanted to be remembered.
The second Holland book, replete with further research details and more family connections was 500+ pages! At a family event this year, I was reminded that certain members of my family had possession of one of the long-since-out-of-print Holland book. Also, sixty years later, I was reminded of reunion and prompted to have another family reunion!
What happens when people get together and simply chat? It turns out that there are lots of things to say, mostly little quips about family members and events. Interestingly, it is a test of memory. Little details suddenly become big items to test a person’s mental acuity or recall. When was Archibald Holland born and where did you say he came from?
When it gets down to it, the brain is a complex organ that controls every process that regulates our body, and it is those special memories which feed our being and justify our existence. We are here because of we are connected with people of the past.