My family is having a reunion in New York next weekend. Although I was out there last year for my cousin's wedding, this visit feels a little different.
I can't exactly put my finger on it. There's a mixture of feelings, I suppose. My grandfather had just passed away before our last visit, and it had been years--probably more than a decade--since we'd seen some of my family out there. That may be another post altogether. All the same, I'm not sure what to expect out of this coming weekend. We don't have any of the "easy" excuses for getting together this time, except that we decided there should be a reunion last year.
A number of people from my grand-uncle's side of the family are coming, which is exciting because I've never met them. Myself and one other guy on that side are the only male heirs left "to carry on the name" for our branch of the family. That thought has crossed my mind before, but it's not clear how much important it should hold. My dad and I went on a pretty big genealogy binge awhile back, and discovered that we have quite a storied history. For some reason I didn't really expect that.
Something my family is--historically speaking--very good at is giving its children odd names. Not odd for their time, I'm sure, but entertaining to look back on, certainly. Ephraim, Dorcas, Icabod, Peleg--we've had some doozies. It turns out, three branches of my family name came to the colonies in 1623--just after the Mayflower landed. One of my ancestors was killed by natives around the Revolutionary War, who, according to some notes "ate his heart after dividing it in pieces." I'll always be curious to know how much of that story is true.
Families are interesting things. The stories they carry, and even those that are forgotten with time, can build a certain weight of identity. But what do we do with all that knowledge, all that history? Does it just make interesting stories for a party? Is there something worthwhile in not just continuing a family name, but in some way curating it; in preserving the complete record to some degree? I'm not sure I'd know how to go about that task.