In Defense of the Family Reunion
Across America, thousands of people will be traveling this summer. Some of them for vacation, some for business, and some of them for family reunions.
My family is one of those families gathering this weekend in Doniphan.
But attendance will be down a bit this summer, for a lot of reasons. First, Mitcheners are now scattered across the United States. They will be traveling from the East Coast, from the West Coast, and from many dots on a map in between. Travel is expensive. Almost everyone has a year where their family budget is too tight to allow for such a trip, even if the reunions are held just every other year.
And then there is the problem of scheduling, especially for the younger Mitcheners, who are now in college, in early stages of their careers and their own families. And then there are those of us who are in the midst of all kinds of life changes. There are marriages, divorces, building new businesses, and even illnesses with which we all have to contend at one point or another.
So….why do we go to the trouble and expense of returning to Doniphan every other year?
Doniphan….of all places?
Well….Doniphan is where this branch of the Mitchener family has its roots. My grandfather, Leo Mitchener, and my grandmother, Buretta Mitchener, raised five children….Lorene, Virginia (Micky), Amber Ruth (Skeet), and the twins, Bob and Betty.
These roots are important in the Mitchener story, because genes, and environment, are the two most important factors in what kind of individuals we turn out to be.
The Mitcheners won the genetic lottery. They are all attractive, and even more important, very smart, and ambitious. Every one of them is an excellent communicator.
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And….this also explains why they all scattered. They all left Doniphan in search of opportunity. Small towns don’t usually offer a great deal of opportunity to the ambitious.
So why do we always return for a family reunion?
Because it is important for families to remain connected, and we have to work harder and harder to maintain those connections every year. It is important to recognize that we owe a debt of gratitude to those who came before us.
It also makes us aware of what we owe future generations.
We owe them the opportunity to understand from where it is they came, both genetically, and geographically.
And I have made it my personal mission to make Southeast Missouri a place that my daughters can always call home. I want to create more opportunity here so that my daughters, and their children, will not feel they have to move away in order to have the means to build a good life for their families.
And that, my friends, is the importance of a family reunion. Do what it takes to get to yours this summer. It is the best gift you can give your children, even if they do not yet realize it. So put those family reunion dates in red on your calendar and get there! Summer camp for the kids can wait. Vacation can wait.
Your family cannot wait.
By the time your next reunion rolls around, I can guarantee you will have lost some family members, and you will gain some family members. The moments you spend with these people are moments you will never get back.