Family is what matters most |

Family is what matters most

“This place creeps me out.”

We had just pulled in to the small enclave of cabins where 60 members of my family were gathering for a reunion. To say my kids were hesitant would be an understatement. They were giving up a three-day weekend, the Fourth of July parade and fireworks on the mountain at home, to travel four hours to see family they’d never met. On top of that, the first impression of our reunion site wasn’t impressing my teenager. Then again, not a lot does.

We were only the second family to arrive, and as we walked the grounds, familiarizing ourselves with our home for the next few days, my 14-year-old looked around at the rustic cabins tucked into the pine trees, quaint with their antique decor and dusty Old West theme, and announced again, “It creeps me out. I don’t like this.”

It’s OK. I get it. Family reunions can be a little creepy.

Let’s face it, we don’t get to choose the families we come from. Tracing the old family tree can lead to some peculiar findings, and very few of us actually come across the jewel in the treasure box, those blood lines leading to royalty or to prestigious members of society. I, for instance, traced my genealogy and found out I have a relative named Benjamin Franklin, but not the Benjamin Franklin; and this one was married to a woman named Savannah Georgia. Seriously. I also have a great-great-grandmother named Sarah Hurley who married a man named James Burley. Which makes her Sarah Hurley-Burley. You can’t make this stuff up.

Somewhere in my gene pool there’s a prodigious moonshine salesman, a rich oilman, Purple Hearts, Distinguished Medals of Honor, and insanity in the Appalachians. I have relatives who’ve spent time in jail and relatives who’ve spent time in the White House.

The great thing about family though is … well, family. We all have a story and quite frankly the more interesting a person is, usually the better their story.

So we sucked it up and sucked in the fresh mountain air as we waited uncertainly for our family descendants to descend on this tiny mountain town. We shook hands, hugged and broke bread together for two days. We shared stories, shared memories, and shared ourselves with each other. We teared up when talked about people we’d lost and held tight to the babies and spouses we’ve gained.

Rowing a boat across a small mountain lake my son asked, “Why do you all seem so close?” (This from the one who’d been so creeped out a few hours earlier.) A cousin who’d traveled from his home in France to be with us answered quickly and simply, “In the end, family is what matters most,” he said.

That night as a chorus of teenagers entertained us all around the campfire, I watched the smiling faces, young and old, content to be together. As for my son, I think he’d agree that first impressions aren’t always the best way to judge ” either rustic cabins or family trees.

Charla Belinski’s column runs every other week in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

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