May 23 11:44 AM

Family reunions can help bridge the gaps between generations

July 28, 2010
This is one of those duo-deadline weekends which I dislike so much. Of course, I love the occasions, but the cleaning and organizing create a lot of pressure. Most of the kids came this weekend to attend a reunion and to celebrate Mike's birthday. Once they were gone, revamping and regrouping had to take place with record speed to get ready for the reunion in Iowa, which will have already happened by the time you read this. Because I'm a bit of a packrat, trivia gets unearthed in the process. Sixteen-year-old Jessica has come to think of my spare room as her bedroom when she comes, so knowing her family was coming forced my hand—making it time for action. A bag for garbage, a bag for Goodwill, a box for things with which I can't part.

In what ended up being a haphazard little stash of papers, with no rhyme or reason—certainly not chronologically arranged—were things like Erma Bombeck's "When God Created Mothers..."; a poem penned by my sister-in-law Gracia a year or so before she died from cancer in 1998, and my niece Jacki's Christmas 1995 letter saying Haley is three and chattering nonstop. (Today Haley heads for Zambia as part of a missions trip.) Right on top of that was a birthday card for Mike. On it is a picture of Logan wearing a diaper and holding a pen. The message, obviously written by his very witty and gifted mom, reads: Dear Grandpa, I've been busted again with a paper and pen; but there's something I just had to do...I accomplished my mission. For your birthday, I'm wishin'...a Happy Birthday for you!!! (In a couple of weeks, Logan will be ten, and today Grandpa turns 69.)

It's my opinion that things like that just shouldn't be thrown out—that once I'm gone and my children are sorting through the things I've left behind there will be little treasures like that which tie the generations together. My husband's sometimes not sure my kids actually think that way. Occasionally I wonder too—maybe they'll just hire a dumpster, park it outside that room, and heave the whole lot of it out the window.

But today, everyone is gone, and I'm switching gears. In my hand, though, I hold evidence that maybe someone—probably the sixteen-year-old whose bedroom housed that little disheveled pile of trivia—does care, and left a clipping on an end table next to the living room couch where I found it this morning. It was the column in which I'd shared some musings of our last year's reunion. I had, after all, included a line about relationships being built and friendships forged around late-night campfires; and I remember hearing her uncle talking yesterday about a little knot of teens and young adults still young enough to handle it having a marathon and life-altering campfire discussion one night. Haley and Jessica were both in on that, and this little scrap of salvaged memorabilia had already given credence to a stirred-up memory, stitching a gentle seam between the generations.

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Willene Tanis is a longtime resident of the Imlay City area and an active volunteer in the community. Many readers find her 'Perspectives' column to universal and uplifting.
Castle Creek
Milnes Ford
05 - 23 - 19
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