When I was a kid, we used to go to the Steiner Center in Wadsworth for a Pavkov family reunion every year in December. Grandpa and Grandma Pavkov's kids and grandkids would all be there and we would have an unforgettable day swimming with our cousins, then getting out of the pool to play with the foosball tables, pool tables, maybe even sometimes play a little ball in the gym. There were always games, a pinata and, of course, FOOD!
It's funny how you can remember specific things from your childhood as if it were yesterday. My memories of Steiner Center Christmases are at least 30 years old, and yet they are so very clear in my mind, right down to the sting of the chlorine in the pool to the smell of coffee brewing in our big gathering room to the taste of Aunt Janet's Saurkraut Balls!
When my cousin, Traci, e-mailed all of us to see if we would be interested in a family reunion, we all jumped on that idea! What fun to introduce OUR kids to the fun we had at our reunions!
So, today was that day. We met in Mansfield at the Comfort Inn where we rented a conference room and had the use of their Splash Harbor mini-water park for six hours. Oh my! What fun we had! The cousins enjoyed playing together in the water while the parents and grandparents enjoyed being splashed as the kids came down the slide. The parents also enjoyed the adult-only hot tub, too! We had games and gifts and FOOD! Hot food, yummy food, and way too much food, but that's what Christmas family reunions are all about. Aunt Janet's cheese balls and crackers and her saurkraut balls showed up, too! We told stories about Grandma and Grandpa and Aunt Janet. We talked about all the cousins who weren't there. We caught up on each other's lives and promised that we would do this again soon.
The day was far too short, with our measly six hours together, but we're taking advantage of the time we had together and are showing our love like we never have before. Unfortunately this week, a young man, known to many of us (and mostly my young adult nephews and niece) was tragically killed and the brevity of life has been staring us in the face. We took time today to hug, to voice words of appreciation, to look each other in the eyes and to love each other as if it was our last day together. The range of emotions today went from the lows of mourning a dear friend to the heights of enjoying family time.
It was a beautiful day here and I'm so thankful that our family knows and acts upon the love of Jesus. My memories of today will be cut deeply and I will cherish them.
Family reunions. There's nothing like them!