Friday, September 10, 2010

Raynor family reunion: your living relatives are important, too

I mean, duh - the fact that your living relatives are just as important as your dead ones should go without saying, but I know from personal experience, sometimes I spend so much time looking up those who have gone before me that I sometimes forget about the ones who are here with me, not only as a valuable source of family stories and information, but as people, as friends, and as family. And I'm not just talking about the cousins and aunts and uncles, but the second cousins and so-and-so number cousins removed so-and-so many times. These are the people you are connected to now. These are the people your grandchildren will be looking up someday.

On July 31, my mom's side of the family, the Raynors, had a family reunion at my aunt's house. Almost 50 descendants of my great grandparents, Monroe Raynor and Amelia Berg Raynor, showed up to this thing - my mother's cousins, my cousins, my second cousins, and now the next generation of Raynor-Bergs, as my second cousins get married and have kids. None of my great-grandparents seven children are still alive, but my 95-year-old grandmother, Mary Cronin Raynor, was also there, so we had four generations under one roof. It was pretty amazing. Many of these relatives I knew from other family reunions - many of those many, though, I hadn't seen in close to 15 years. Others I knew of from my genealogy research but had never met. Some I knew nothing of. But you could see some similarities in some of the cousins, like the gigantically tall gene my cousin Cliff and second cousin David share, or how so many of my mom's female cousins look like each other, or like my grandfather's sisters.

And of course, the topic of genealogy was part of the day. My aunt ordered copies of the family tree compilation put together by the Freeport village historian in the 1970s, enough so everyone could bring a copy home with them. Everyone brought photos of their families and I brought some of the family genealogy I had worked on. Old photos of my grandfather's generation and his parents generation were brought out and we marveled at how easy it was to pick out my grandfather in one, even though he was only 10, and how one of Amelia Berg's brothers looked exactly like my mom's brother Cliff, and how much they both look like Teddy Roosevelt. And in that same photo, we made up stories about Amelia's brother Royal Howard, who stood out as looking handsome, suave, debonair, and by far the best-dressed of the bunch. And at the end of the day, we did what all families should do, especially those who are so genealogically-inclined, we took a family portrait on the front lawn, a souvenir of a fun family get together and another record of our family for future generations to use in their own research.

July 31 Raynor reunion family photo as printed in the Raynor Family Association's August 2010 bulletin.

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