The Perks of Going to Family Reunions

Every year, my Jensen side has a family reunion on Memorial Day weekend.  This year we decided not to go.  After all, we had been on an big family trip the weekend before, I had promised my boys I would finally throw their birthday party on Saturday, we were constantly showing our house while deciding if we actually were going to sell it, and we knew we had several people waiting to make offers as soon as we gave them the green light.  It seemed that throwing in the reunion, a three hour drive each way, was just a little much.

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My boys standing in front of their great-great-grandfather’s farm.

But early in the week as I felt just a wee bit overwhelmed, I prayed and asked the Lord what I should do.  Then I opened my eyes.

Pictures of last year’s reunion on our random (or not so random) screensaver flashed out at me.  I reminded myself that not everything is a sign and just because that picture popped up just when I was asking God for some direction didn’t actually mean anything.

I’ve got to quit opening my eyes during my prayers.  I know I’m supposed to keep them closed during the prayer, but they just can’t seem to help themselves.  I guess they like to know what’s going on.

But near the end of the week, this windows just seemed to open, and I found myself with time to go.  I told all the boys we were going, and they did protest much, but I told them we were going and that was that.

The Jensen side of our family is our cowboy side.  They are delightful people with plenty of jokes and many an embellished story.

This year, they drove us around all the families’ farms in Emery County.  My great-grandfather, Hans, homesteaded the land over a hundred years ago and then divided his land up among his five children before he died.  If you can believe it, I had never actually seen my grandfather’s farm.  He died long before I was born, and he had to sell his farm several years before he died because he suffered from black lung and couldn’t keep working the farm anymore.  How heartbreaking was the day that he came home and told his wife that he sold the farm!

But they took such good care of their farm.  They raised over a thousand chickens, and they hauled all of that manure over to their farm and nothing makes alfalfa grow like chicken manure.  My cousins said they’d never seen so much hay stacked so close on that farm.  I am sure there is something to be learned from this—like how getting manure tossed on you in life just makes you grow better or something like that, but I think we could all do without that life lesson.

Some of the other siblings have hung on to their farms and have been kept within the family for over a hundred years.  What an accomplishment!  My cousins work hard to keep their farms running, and I was tempted to ask them if I could leave a boy or two with them to help on the family farm this summer, especially since one son, who had spent all of his time in the van either sleeping or playing his iPod had complained that I was “wasting his time.”

I loved listening to my cousins tell their favorite stories–about the bridge where the young people in town were known to makeout, the ditch that one of them fell in while attempting to relieve himself, the eight cows that got into the alfalfa and ate themselves to death.

“A cow can die by eating alfalfa?” I asked incredulously.

“Yep,” answered my cousin Brent.  “Makes them really gassy.  They get so bloated that it crushes the rest of their organs and kills ’em off.”  Everybody was trying not to bust up because really, it was pretty sad.

One joke they said was that the Mormon prophet, Brigham Young, sent settlers out to Emery County and then died four days later. Nobody knew if he had finally earned his reward or if God thought he had just gone a little too far by making people move to Emery County.

After a great lunch, we flew kites, blew bubbles, played baseball, and did a lot of talking.

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Debi was quite the little kite flyer.

We visited my dear grandparents’ graves too.  I don’t think we take enough time in our lives to remember.

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I guess I really needed this day after all.  So I’m telling you all now, get to your family reunions this summer.  They’re never convenient, but they’re very important.

A recent study has shown that children that know their family history can handle stress much better than those that don’t.  More about that tomorrow.

What do you do to remember your family?  When was the last reunion you went to?

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