Family Reunions

Western NY still feels like home. It has been more than half my life ago that I lived there, but the open country and farms scattered on rolling hills still speak to me like no other land in this country. We have lived in beautiful places—nestled between two majestic mountain ranges in Washington state and in historic Charleston with its charming architecture and ocean views— yet western NY is still the place I love most.

Family Reunions | One Radiant Home

We spent nearly 2 weeks back in NY earlier this month, visiting family and attending reunions. Though family reunions are often stereotyped as torturous events, we enjoy being with our families and look forward to seeing everyone when we can make it. Our days were jam packed with activities (and trips to Wegmans), but the opportunity to see so many of our favorite people in one place made it worth the effort.

Family Reunions | One Radiant Home

My mom’s family reunion goes back several generations. With around 200 people there, it feels like a scavenger hunt trying to figure out how each person is related. The wall-sized family tree chart helps to sort out which branch we are from, but in the end it doesn’t matter much. Many of the family are believers, so I feel closer to them as brothers and sisters in the Lord than as third cousins.

This reunion meets on family-owned property that is complete with a pavilion, BBQ pit, a creek, climbing trees, and an open field for the annual “kids don’t strike out” softball game.  Inside the pavilion are tables and couches and endless food. In addition to the large wall chart, there is table filled with photo albums covering decades of reunion fun. It’s always fun to pull out the 1994 book to show my kids pictures of myself at their age! (I’m the one with my eyes closed. I have school pictures that turned out like that too…)

Family Reunions | One Radiant Home

Family Reunions | One Radiant Home

We drove over an hour each way to get to that reunion on Saturday, and on Sunday we woke up and drove over an hour in another direction to gather with Shawn’s family. This was a smaller reunion, beginning with his paternal grandparents, and including their 4 children and all of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

We spent the day at a lovely park pavilion, enjoying the sun, the playground, and the delicious BBQ lunch. Though many of Shawn’s family members still live in NY and PA, his parents and some of his siblings have moved to the West coast in recent years. With our growing families and the cost of travel, we seldom have all of Shawn’s siblings and their kids in one place. There were 5 or 6 new children in the family since the last time we all saw each other!

Seeing all of the kids play together was the highlight of the day for me. When we were all teenagers, I would have imagined that our families would be very different from each other. Though there are some differences, we all desire to raise children that love the Lord. Our families are much more alike than they are different, and the children seemed to sense that about each other.

We continued our visiting into the evening at Grandma’s church, eating, celebrating birthdays, and opening Lego gifts from Grandpa.

The next morning, we made the hour drive again to gather with Shawn’s parents and siblings one last time. Many of our local friends dropped by throughout the day to see all of the kids and catch up with us. For a house with 14 children under 12 running around, it was amazingly peaceful and fun.

Family Reunions | One Radiant Home

That weekend was the busiest time of our trip. The next 3 days we spent at my parents’ house. Though we didn’t do as much driving, we continued to visit with another grandma, aunt, and cousins. The kids spent lots of time climbing trees and chasing sword fighting their teenage aunts and uncles.

I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen so many family members in such a short amount of time. Exhausting for an introvert, but worth it!

Family Reunions | One Radiant Home

Family Reunions | One Radiant Home

Family Reunions | One Radiant Home

Family Reunions | One Radiant Home

Family Reunions | One Radiant Home

Family Reunions | One Radiant Home

Family Reunions | One Radiant Home

Family Reunions | One Radiant Home

I hope my kids remember this trip with fondness and grow up looking forward to family reunions as we do. I’m not sure they will long for the beauty of NY as Shawn and I do, but I do hope they will always feel at home when they are with family!

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7 Responses to Family Reunions

  1. Graham & Jacqueline says:

    It was so wonderful seeing you, Shawn, and your growing family (most of whom we had not yet met). We thank God for safe travels for all, family time, and precious memories.
    Beautiful words as well as pictures above, Sara.

  2. Deborah Cobb says:

    Beautiful, thanks for sharing. The pictures are treasures on paper.

  3. God bless you for posting this memoir w/ remarkably descriptive words and pictures! I also have deep New York / W. Pennsylvania Roots! I graduated from Houghton College in 1970, married my college sweetheart in 1971, lived with her & our 3 sons in Erie, PA, for 15 yrs, until she succumbed to cancer in 1986. Since then I have lived in West Lafayette, IN, Kirksville MO, and now Noblesville, IN. A widower who has watched his Three Sons grow to full adulthood! There are no grandchildren!

    As the oldest of eight siblings, I have dozens of nieces and nephews as well as dozens of grand nieces and nephews! They are scattered from coast to coast, and around the world! One nephew lives with his wife and daughter has Wycliffe Bible Translators in Nigeria. Another niece lives with her German-born husband and four daughters in Switzerland! The Third Coast of Australia in Melbourne with her husband and three children!

    I fully understand and appreciate the complexities of multi-generational family reunions! Last summer, we have our first reunion are parents passed away the last one in 2013! My dad was also a Houghton College graduate class of 1937! My mom has graduated from Wheaton College in 1942!

    God bless you and thank you again for sharing your story!

    • Sara says:

      Thank you for sharing! I forgot to respond to this earlier. Sounds like you have a very adventurous family! I hope you get a chance to visit them in those places 🙂

  4. eloise colter says:

    it was great to see all of you,so glad we could spend few hours,wish it could be more but life is crazy for all plus the expense. David was very impressed with Shawn and for a 19 year old to see what a great job he was doing with the kids says something to me,how he never spoke roughly to them but firm and loving {hopefully when he has his own that will be remembered,not to soon tho:) We look forward to next year. David had rough day at work today just before he went in found out the man that started the business was found dead he was 81 but was out on the farm daily with the help. Please keep family and employees in your prayers great loss to all. LOVE YOU ALL

  5. Renée Curtis Queen says:

    What a wonderful way to recap and reflect! I know exactly what you’re talking about when you speak of the HOME sense of Western N.Y. Love that picture of the Curtis grandkids all lined up. Hope you recreate it at subsequent reunions. The line is already getting longer with Baby Clark and will certainly grow vertically! In His love, Aunt Renée.

  6. Renée Curtis Queen says:

    Wonderful recap and reflections! And I know just what you mean by the HOME sense of Western N.Y.
    Love that picture of the Curtis grandkids all lined up. Hope you make it a tradition in subsequent reunions. The line is already getting longer with Baby Clark and will certainly grow vertically!