Once again itís a holiday weekend and once again itís
time for our family reunion. The tradition goes way back and
seems to continue on year after year. When I was a child, my
mother and all her siblings gathered in the summer at my
grandmotherís house. It is a large family and they all tried
to come at about the same time to see each other.
Finally, there were too many grandchildren to all fit into
grandmotherís house, so the gathering was moved to a park
where it continued for many more years. Eventually my
grandmother and grandfather passed away, the children grew old,
and the grandchildren became parents, but the tradition
continued. The only difference was that the old people didnít
like sun and bugs and moved the gathering to a recreation hall.
It has always been a potluck dinner, with each family
bringing enough to feed themselves and the rest of the entire
group. It is up to the ones that live in the area to bring the
"homemade" food. Those that have to travel a long way
and stay in a motel buy the buckets of chicken, potato chips and
Since Iím one of the cooking members, the problem I have is
always what to take. It doesnít have to be fancy; it simply
has to be good. Heaven forbid that you should show up with a
dish not as tasty as every one elseís. It would be mortifying!
Of course, some things are not to be improved upon, for example,
my auntís coconut cream, melt in your mouth pies. There is no
need to even try to top that.
I recall the terrible year that I tried to make a cherry
cobbler that was a flop. I usually make delicious cherry
cobbler, but for some reason, undoubtedly just to embarrass me,
it turned into water. I shudder to remember. Oh, the shame of
bringing a dish not up to family standards. I really have to fix
something good to try and make up for this disaster.
Every lady tries to outdo everyone else in the cooking
department, bringing their best culinary delights. The table is
so laden with food the legs bulge and can hardly hold it all Ė
and thatís after everyone eats. We donít know how it
happens, but somehow the food multiplies and there is more left
over that there was when we started.
Someone always brings southern pork barbecue so I usually
make beef barbecue for my main dish. This sort of balances
things for those with hardening of the arteries that have to
forgo the traditional greasy, southern fare. Actually, there are
a good many of us who need to give up the calories as well, as
overeating is beginning to show on bellies and buns.
My daughter makes delicious lasagna that everyone seems to
like. I might just let her do that and save myself some trouble.
Casseroles are always good at a social dinner. That, along with
a nice salad of some sort, and maybe a homemade banana pudding,
if the dessert gremlins donít turn it into yet another
disaster, should be a sufficient contribution.
Whatever I decide on, I am certain to have more food to bring
back home than I took. Iíve never been able to figure out why
we make so much food, but it seems to be as much a part of the
tradition as the reunion itself.
For some unknown reason, there is a mysterious fear of
someone not getting enough to eat. That has never happened yet.
But maybe I should fix both the barbecue and the lasagna, just
to be sure. Wouldnít want anyone going home hungry now, would