About 25 years ago, my father purchased some property in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. He had several different plans for the land, including a youth camp and a place for his retirement home. Sadly, he passed away before his dreams could be realized. We still enjoy the property, however, as a family reunion site every Memorial Day weekend.
This year was one of our biggest gatherings yet. My mom and seven of the eight children made it, along with spouses, 26 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Some of older grandchildren went hiking while the younger ones played in the river. Some slept in the cabin while others camped in the valley. We played volleyball and soccer in the open field. We painted rocks to look like bugs and mice. We cooked hotdogs over a fire and ate more than a few s’mores.
Traveling to see family has always been a priority to me, and this past weekend was a good reminder of why. What a blessing it was to see my children having such a great time with all of their cousins – cousins who ranged in age from one year to twenty-six years old. They played games with aunts and uncles and talked with their grandmother – it was good to watch them just enjoy each others’ company.
Even though my mom and siblings live quite far from us, we’ve been able to maintain close relationships, due in part to get-togethers like this one. And the family continues to grow. This year, one new great-grandchild has already arrived, and two more are due in the months to come. We’ll take trips to see them, and hopefully they’ll make it to the mountain property next Memorial Day.
Though it may not be exactly what my dad had intended, I think he would be pleased with how the land is being used, as it brings his family together again and again.