With no family reunion this year, efforts needed to stay in touch
Many families have an annual family reunion -- or hold one every few years.
We do, and we hold the annual gathering in New Hampshire. It is always great fun. It's actually a family and friends reunion. Because we are spread out all over the U.S. and abroad, it's a wonderful annual ritual and a way to keep in touch.
It also catches us up with the next generation of grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins. Some years many come, some years we get a smaller group. This year, no one.
There is no Khleif family reunion this year because people are not traveling, not attending large group gatherings (including me). Last year we had a very big turn out, so that is good. But the prospect of no more reunions for a couple years is a bummer.
In addition to the family reunion part, for me it's a chance to visit with special friends and catch up with them in person. We make a long weekend of it, usually the long Columbus Day weekend, which is coming up. That gives us some extra days to go to lunch or breakfast with a close friend, or just a couple friends. We hold the whole event in Durham, New Hampshire, home of my dear sister-in-law, Noelle, and brother-in-law, Bud.
And Durham is the location of our Khleif Family plot where my dear Baheej is buried. So it gives me an annual opportunity to visit his gravesite in a beautiful wooded cemetery. Of course, Baheej spirit is not there; he's here with me in Sleepy Hollow and with the children. But it is still comforting to go there and to see the pretty fall flowers Noelle and friend Pat have lovingly planted.
And then there is the gorgeous New England fall foliage that will be missed this year, including the huge amount of brilliant red Maple trees, and drives along colorful back roads to visit New Hampshire country stores.
So our Khleif reunion is an event loaded with feelings and memories in addition to the evening reunion dinners themselves. These activities are difficult to give up, even for a year or maybe two. This sounds like a bit of wallowing, which is not good but hard to avoid.
I realize many other families have by this time of year already forgone their own summertime reunions and picnics. This year has been hard for lots of families.
And I also realize for some families, reunions are a mixed bag with lots of complex family relationships. Probably not everyone is distressed by these cancellations.
But in our case, the family is harmonious and includes four generations and several longtime friends, so it is big for us, and for me. We have been doing it for more than 35 years.
The reunion problem is just one example of how we must learn to cope with all these canceled events. It is time to think more about this, with the fall and winter holidays approaching. News that social distancing and masks are likely to last through 2021 is hard to imagine. Even after a COVID-19 vaccine is available, it will take some months to blanket the population. Oh my …
The point is: So many events and activities are being taken away from us in these coronavirus days. It may not be a reunion you miss, but some other annual event or celebration. So we need to muster up all the creativity we can and make efforts to bridge the gap.
Personally, I will do more emailing, more letter writing, more phone calls. I will look at photos of years past and from the big family gathering and holidays last year. I will decorate for each holiday and cook meals for myself. These are strange times, indeed.
I even plan to learn how to properly use Zoom and FaceTime videoconferencing so they look more professional and natural. There are lots of articles and videos on YouTube that show us how to use these tools. Wish me luck! And luck to you, too. Here we go …
• Susan Anderson-Khleif of Sleepy Hollow has a doctorate in family sociology from Harvard, taught at Wellesley College and is a retired Motorola executive. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or see her blog longtermgrief.tumblr.com. See previous columns at www.dailyherald.com/topics/Anderson-Kleif-Susan.