Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Family Reunion - the Saga Continues

by Madelle Morgan

My sister teaches our niece (15) to sailboard.

My three sisters, mother, aunt and I rented a nine bedroom lodge at a lake for a week in July and shared the cooking.

The family is distributed among multiple towns and cities. Winter storms make it difficult to get together in December. 

Our annual summer reunion is the only opportunity to connect with family members in person – a time to take the pulse of each other’s lives and celebrate milestones. This year one niece was recently engaged and another just graduated from college, two nephews will start high school and college respectively in the fall, a sister and her latest partner (third time’s a charm) bought a house, we celebrated my mother’s 80th birthday, and we collectively acknowledged the five year anniversary of our husband-brother-father-grandfather’s passing.

Reunions can be wonderful. Family history is shared. Old memories are exhumed for dissection and reassembly. Each person who was present at an event has a different perspective, like piecing together puzzle pieces into a more accurate big picture view. Our kids grow up so fast. There’s a sense of time running out for the older family members: “We’d better get together while they’re still in good health.” Time together is precious and fleeting.

Reunions can be enlightening. After a few glasses of wine in the dark on the porch, secrets can surface. You find out things they’d never reveal on the phone or in email. Advice is given and ignored. Relationships strengthen due to sharing experiences and “what’s-going-on-in-my-life”.

Reunions can shape who is considered part of a family, whether they're biological relatives, dear friends, or current and former partners and their relatives. Some people aren’t welcome at a reunion, some are missed, some are considered just plain embarrassing... especially by sensitive teens.

Oh, the gamut of feelings associated with family: love and romance, conflict, jealousy, coming of age, tragedy, drama, comedy, old and fresh grievances, joys and sorrows, and on and on.

Is this emotional range why family sagas are so popular with readers? Is it because readers identify with the characters’ problems and goals? Or do they simply love to read about complex family relationships? Or they’d like to discover solutions to their own family issues?

Do you love reading novels about families, and if so, why?


Shobhan Bantwal said...

Sounds like you have a large and interesting family, Madelle. Family dynamics always provide great fodder for conflict, emotion, romance, and even mystery. That's why I love reading family stories and why I include lots of family drama in my own India-centric books.

Madelle Morgan said...

I totally agree, Shobhan. Welcome to Romancing the Genres! I look forward to reading your posts and books.

Judith Ashley said...

Madelle, Families are all you've mentioned and an unending fountain of information. While I've enjoyed reading family sagas currently I'm learning more about my own background on my mother's side. I recently visited with my 104 year old aunt who mentioned she thought her grandmother had had "marital difficulties". "Oh, why do you think that?" I asked. "Well," my aunt replied. "She divorced grandpapa after 8 children."

I checked the family tree and learned she divorced her husband sometime after 1903 when her last child was born and 1924 when he died.

My aunt went on to say she thought her grandmother had been shunned by others in the small town where they lived (and all 8 children had been born).

Who needs to read a family saga when they have this to explore in their own history?

Madelle Morgan said...

Judith, divorce was almost unheard of in those days. What a story must be behind the grandmother's decision. I am thinking she must have been one brave and determined woman.

I do agree that the stories in our own families rival or better anything we can make up!

Sarah Raplee said...

Family truths are often stranger than fiction. Maybe that's part of the attraction of family sagas: anything goes - and readers know it could really happen.