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Family gatherings important in our lives
francis bond
Francis Bond lives in Richmond Hill, where he occasionally writes columns about things that interest him.

In my view, I can’t think of a more important activity than families getting together.
Sometimes, that’s not always easy to do. There are those unexpected travel problems, tragedies and sicknesses. There are the hardships and the inabilities to finance long journeys to be present at the reunion. But then, what if it were easy for all members of the family to be present at the reunion? Think about the grand event to look forward to. Think about that!
Say, after about five years, the gathering of the family occurs. Getting together on any holiday, especially on Christmas Day, the excitement of seeing each other, remembering what it was like the last time we saw each other, wondering what damages time had done to each, or what improvements time had made. Experiencing the children rampaging around under everyone’s feet and meeting them for the first time are thrills that could last a lifetime.
There are the appearances of each sibling — how do they look? Of course, there are some changes in attitude, philosophy and political engagements. On political issues, I have never been involved in such hot debates as I have been with members of my family. But then, it was exciting and I enjoyed just venting my opinion. Where else could I have done that and still retained all the warmth, respect and admiration?
The gathering of the family is more than experiencing all the excitement and personal relationships with each other. In my view, it’s the strength of this nation. I sense that there are not enough of these reunions. For one reason, I believe, the blame should be on the barrage of electronic gadgets that have invaded the families, absorbed the attention and influenced the family.
We planned games, music and other means of entertainment, and most of all the menus, the good things to eat, though maybe we should have watched the cookouts. It’s the cookout that reveals so much when families get together. When everyone is drinking spirits and merry-making, secrets and hidden words slip out — but then, probably no one was listening. Maybe I could have been more tight-lipped.
During one reunion, we all were loosening up and adjusting our altitudes, while the hot dogs and hamburgers were on the coals cooking. My brother-in-law had just bought a new car and asked me to take a look at it. I did, and it just slipped out, being in a humorous mood, I said “It ain’t no good.”
I expected a response in the same manner. But it didn’t happen. Instead, he has reminded me many times of that remark. Had it not occurred at a family reunion, I would have forgotten it long ago. There are many more memories of exchanges, but this one stood out.  
I can look at many photographs of all the members of my family. I can remember all the issues that we discussed and all the serious arguments that occurred among members of my family. I can lean back and remember how each one looked, what their voice sounded like and the times they were having problems.
All these things I can do, remembering the gathering of the family.

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