Childhood stories The EndCracker Jack and Related Childhood Memories–Part VII: But at the end of day, at the end of the church picnic, it was not about the ice cream, pony rides, quilt raffles, or toys; it was not even about the Cracker Jack! It was about Family: sisters, brothers, moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandmas, grandpas, cousins, and kids, and the opportunity to interact to stay one big family and really get to know one another. Back in the old days (my old days) it seemed easier because families were mostly geographically closer. On the other hand, it is easier now to travel by car, camper, motorcycle, or plane. What it requires besides travel and time is the realization that family gatherings offer special moments and connections that enrich our lives in ways not possible otherwise.

In retrospect, I wish I knew my aunts, uncles and cousins better.  But then I could say the same about my brothers and sisters. Furthermore, I wish I had known my parents better, but I was too busy with my own life to ask about theirs, even though we lived in the same house much of the time. I don’t recall who said “A person travels in search of what he/she needs, and returns home to find it” but it was Desmond Tutu who said “You don’t choose your family; they are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.” Sometimes it takes us a while to appreciate that, and, of course, realizing the full potential of this “gift” requires going the extra mile, the extra day, and the extra dollar.  But it pays off. “Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.” I think we can extend that notion to grandchildren, cousins, nieces, nephews and beyond.

I applaud the camping trip events you all organize and enjoy. I am sure it is not about the camping, but rather the opportunity for extended family to be together—today’s ”church picnic gathering”.  “Family is not an important thing, it’s everything.” I will bring the Cracker Jack.