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Gathering of one’s family overshadows work involved

Gathering of one’s family overshadows work involved Gathering of one’s family overshadows work involved

There is nothing like a forthcoming family reunion to shake up a household. Even if you are not the host at the event, one does spend considerable time wondering what to wear, how to help, what to expect and, of course, whether one should try to lose a bit of weight before the occasion.

I find myself the hostess at our family reunion this June. I love it when we have gatherings at our farm no matter who is on the guest list. But, to have my family visit for a reunion is the very best.

We started planning the reunion months ago. There were lots of emails back and forth to find a date that fit the greatest number of folks. With kids in summer programs, new babies in our extended family, preplanned tourist trips and even a commitment by a nephew to train a new service dog, it was not an easy selection process. Early on, I realized the burden of a slow ‘ high speed’ internet here at the farm. I would suspect many of you have experienced similar scenarios in even trying to plan a family Sunday dinner.

We had to face the reality that not everyone was going to be able to get together on the same date, but even that compromise has had many alterations in the past weeks.

During the past months, I have taken the opportunity to get my farm in shape for the big affair. I know that the point of the festivity is just to be united with my family and to enjoy their company. However, if I don’t use this event to prompt me to fix up this place, what will it take? I have put off painting, repairing and clearing out for some time. It has been about 18 years since we restored this old pioneer homestead and added several buildings to the place. For the most part, it all looks wonderful to us. We love being at the farm in the woods in old log buildings.

These past months, I have tried to look at it with the new eyes of a visitor. Oh, my; did I see the need for rejuvenation on a broad scale. When we first started getting ready for the June event, it seemed so far away. I tried to be organized and tend to rarely used items and spaces. The pole barns contained boxes that hadn’t been opened for years: records from the old days in the Governor’s office, books my mother had left us when she died, tools that are rarely used but urgently needed once in a while on a farm. We culled out quite a bit, reminisced a lot, put some boxes aside for another day and drank a lot of coffee. It was both happy and sad deciding what would be helpful to our lives in the future. When we could persuade our kids, we sent them home with remnants of our work to become saved boxes in their storage spaces. One must acquiesce to the reality that some things will never be used but are too hard to get rid of for one reason or another.

There are some unexpected blessings in remarrying as an aging widow. Don has never heard my family stories. He always listens to the names of people in the pictures and what we were doing at the time the camera caught them. It is a jog to my memory of loved ones, funny happenings and emotionally moving times. People, places and times that might have been forgotten if we had not cleared out the pole barn together to get ready for my family reunion.

The next phase of our clean out entailed the overgrown foliage outside, worn porches and outdoor furniture and rutted driveway. This was the easiest and most gratifying upgrade process to me. I hired people with muscles and mind and set them to work. A wire brush and a can of spray paint can do wonders to metal furniture in short order if eager people are hired. Don and I just sat back and waited to see the revitalized outside porches.

Inside the barn we live in, we have been met with the results of our addiction to second-hand stores and antiques. Oh, dear; the decisions we had to make in relegating items to the dumpster, to the recycle bin, to resale stores as donations or as things to keep and hopefully use. It was in this phase that I seriously questioned the whole idea of a family reunion at the farm.

And then there was the final push to have the place presentable. Some things had to be put off until the very last minute. Blame it on the overly heavy pollen that has been blowing around our air for the past weeks. Clean it off today and it reappears tomorrow.

I would image some of you are having family reunions this summer. You know what I mean about the process of getting ready: preparing food, cleaning, setting up accommodations, etc.

My guess is that all of us will forget about the hours of work when the cousins, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers wrap their arms around us for a hug. It doesn’t get any better than that.