Last Thursday night, my parents, the kids and I arrived hot, tired, and cranky after a two-day, 850-mile road trip to my cousin's farm in Virginia for our Ligon Family reunion. I had never been to a family reunion of any kind, so I had no idea what to expect. But this one was getting off to a bad start, as we had gotten lost several times within a few miles of the farm, and it was hot as blue blazes and well past dinner time when we finally got there.
Then one cousin, a veteran of these get-togethers, warned me, as he thoughtfully slipped my a cold beer into my hand, that the trouble with these reunions—always held at my cousin's sprawling farm overlooking the James River—was that they were hard to get to but then once you got there, you'd never want to leave. Of course, he was absolutely right.
-Watching the morning mist rise over the James River.
-Eating the most amazing meals (which I did not have to cook). I know I wasn't the only one to have a third helping of Pad Thai!
-Sitting on the back porch in a rocking chair listening to my Uncle Grant play blue grass guitar underneath the biggest sky and the brightest stars, while the lightening bugs lit up the lawn and the cicadas kept the beat in the background.
-Letting go of all the rules, so that for once in their lives my kids could run around all day in their bathing suits, ride in the back of a pickup, eat as much candy as they liked, stay up way past their bedtimes so they could play games with their cousins on the lawn, and then fall asleep in my bed while they watch cartoons and brush each other's hair.
-Listening to the littlest kids play at "camping out" in the back yard and until they ran indoors, scared by their own childish attempts at "ghost stories."
-Seeing my children so at ease with family members they had just met that they fell asleep in their arms.
-And most of all, spending three days with family I hadn't seen in many years as well as many family members I had never seen before. There were even a few folks who were no relation at all, but whom I would be proud to call "family." In the end, it was an absolutely idyllic weekend in one of the prettiest little spots in the world with some of the loveliest people I have the pleasure to know and the good fortune to call family. It was, indeed, very hard to leave.