Friday, November 29, 2013

Focus on Life Week 48: Giving Thanks

Many of us are probably giving thanks for our families. That is my story as well but this one has a different twist. It begins with my paternal great-grandparents who had 19 children. This was the era where children were needed as extra hands to work the farm and my great-grandfather, Francis, retired early to supervise his sons as they performed the many chores around the homestead. Most evenings they gathered after the meal to sing the popular tunes of the time. Just about everyone was musical and, if you couldn't play an instrument by ear, you were expected to sing all the more vigorously. The gathering of family was so important to Francis that family lore says a provision of his will required the attendance of all family members to an annual family reunion. Here we see many of the children. My grandmother is seated in the center of the first row, wearing what looks to be a dotted pattern.

Children of Francis and Mary Genevieve
The reunion was a mainstay of our family life. And with 19 children, each generation added greater numbers. Here we see my father's generation. I think he is seated on the ground, fourth from the left.

The date of the reunion rarely changes: the week-end before the July 4th week-end. The location was the family homestead until it was sold and then we moved around but always within close proximity to our Loretto, PA base.

This is my generation shown with my grandmother on the right. I am in the back row wearing red and a very coquettish expression. We loved the reunions and the chance to see aunts, uncles and cousins that we saw infrequently throughout the year. Friday night was always a family sing-along followed by a big picnic on Saturday. Games of pinochle, softball and horseshoes were accompanied by more singing and passing the hat to pay for the venue for the following year's events. In recent years, we added a golf outing to the Friday activities.

All of the original 19 have passed on but their children and children's children continue the tradition. I especially like this last picture because it features my siblings and their children. It was taken about 14 years ago when we were just starting to have our families. Today, I have 20 nieces and nephews and, with everyone's crazy schedules, don't think we have a picture with all of them. 

I give thanks for my great-grandfather who started quite the tradition and to my family whom I love so dearly.

Be sure to visit Sally's blog for more inspiring stories of thanks.


thewovenspoke said...

Great post, I too come from a large family my father had 14 siblings and he is the last one left at 90,

LoriF said...

Great pictures, Paula! How wonderful to have those in your collection, and such a large family group to celebrate!

Beti Horvath said...

Wow, just wow! What a lot to be thankful for!

Claire said...

Oh my, how wonderful to be part of such a rich family heritage!
My family is small, but when I married I 'inherited' a wealth of in-laws and cousins - Nick's the eldest of 5, his dad was the same, and each of his aunts and uncles had large families too!! So Thanksgiving, when we were in the States, was SUCH a wonderful gathering :)

Shel said...

Family reunion attendance required - I love it!! ;-) I showed my sister this (we're w/her and her family for the weekend) and she thought this idea was genius! Your post actually choked me up a bit. It would be nice to see all of our family at least once a year. We're trying, but it is hard with everyone so spread out across the country and with some in the Military it's hard to plan around their deployments and scheduled time off. Family is so important. I adore your family photos and am happy you shared these lovely photos and your family tradition w/us. Happy Thanksgiving!!

Becky Pancake said...

Outstanding post this week Paula. Thanx for sharing your photos and story with us. I come from a large family too. I always enjoy getting together with them.

Janet Bocciardi said...

Love that the family still gets together. That could've gone by the way side, but obviously everyone loves it. Loved the photos!

Adrienne said...

Great post and that you've kept touch with eachother and the tradition goes on!

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