Getting together under the trees, a Southern tradition

Submitted by OcracokeWaves on Sun, 06/06/2010 - 19:36.

I was born in Charlotte, NC so I can rightfully lay claim to being a Southerner. I lived with my mother in the Piedmont area of North Carolina until I went away to military school when I was fourteen.

Family was always at the heart of our life.  My mother was a beautician and every Saturday morning, she would cut hair for the family.  She did if for free though some vegetables might have changed hands, no money was involved.

Many Sundays after church and Sunday lunch, we would drive across the Yadkin River from Forsyth County to Yadkin County and visit with relatives living between East Bend and Yadkinville.

In the fifties and sixties in rural North Carolina, few people had the money for air conditioners.  When it was hot, you wore as few clothes as possible and stayed in the shade while praying for a breeze.

That being the case, those family gatherings would take place under the shade trees.  Often there were watermelons involved and if we were lucky someone would churn some homemade ice cream.  We kids ran and played while paying very little attention to the heat.

Sometimes instead of getting together under the shade tree on Sunday, we would have a Saturday night chicken stew.  I can also remember a few evening meals where we fried fish.

There rarely were formal family reunions.  There was no need since people saw each other almost every week.  In fact I can remember folks being questioned if they missed a week of family gatherings.

While we kids played, a lot of more important things were handled by the adults.  These were people who were ready, willing, and able to help any family member in need.  There is likely no way to build a support circle as strong as one of these circles. 

I know because my whole life I have never felt like an only child.   I had so many cousins that the idea that I was alone was totally foreign.  Family was always there when we needed someone. 

My Uncle Henry used to make certain that my mom had a reliable car.  Some other family connections built our house and drilled our well.  People had no choice but to do a good job, because it would be back to the family in no time if they messed up.

Today it is not uncommon for families to rent our area beach homes because it is a great way to spend some time together in world where families have a hard time getting together.

A week a year together at a beach house is far better than just talking on the phone once in a while.  We just came back from a small reunion.  It was a part of our family that does not see each other very often.

People live farther apart these days and getting together every Sunday is probably something that only happens to a few lucky families.

In spite of the NC heat and humidity, it was great to see everyone.  It made me want to figure out how to get that part of our family together more often, 

In a world full of challenges, being in the company of family members even if only for a few hours creates a welcome refuge from the world and its troubles.

I would not have it any other way,

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