I was reminded by a yahoo bot to update my photos, so I did. The newer fuzzy faces were taken through the moon mirror I hung in my cubicle at work. The out-of-focus face is about as close to reality as I care to get these days…

The National Bushnell Family Reunion

My mother went to a big Bushnell Reunion out in Arizona in 1999. It was a VERY big deal with a lot of work put into it. Those present decided to shoot for a national event in 2007…and began harassing canvasing people out east to work on it early in the new century. Very early. ‘Way too early. People couldn’t wrap their heads around something scheduled almost five years in the future.

Through a variety of family members, the reunion planning marched forward. The impossibly far-away date of July 5-8, 2007 in Hartford, CT is next week. My mother is flying up from Florida on the 4th, my brother is driving up from Kentucky then as well. My sister will make it up from New Jersey after work Friday night and hopes she doesn’t miss the entire dinner celebration thing.

There is a lot of history in the family line of Bushnell…inventors, philanthropists, educators, high mucky-mucks with pedigrees up your wazoo. I expect I’ll hear a lot of it from family members I never met. That’s okay. It’s one of the reasons I am attending. Although there are many Bushnell’s with web sites covering various bits of genealogy, this will be in one place. A smorgasbord of family trees, if you will, with a common theme.

My husband’s family plans a week-long get together every summer at the family farm in Vermont. People pitch in on the cooking, cleaning, repairs, painting, etc. that needs to be done. A family meeting is held on the closing weekend to discuss future care and upkeep of the property and to make other future plans. The number of people who can make it changes from year to year. Many people can only make it for the weekend part. Of all the regular to-do jobs on the list, bush-hogging the hay remains the most highly sought-after job for some reason. It is hot, sweaty, covers you in hay dust, and you have to physically argue with a truculent tractor. Since just about everyone in the family has a bazillion allergies, they all get swelling and red blotches all over the exposed areas…and they grin! A guy thing, probably.

I help out with hubby’s family communication thing by assisting in the family newsletter that is sent out twice a year. Another family member collects materials from family members (holiday letters, graduations, weddings, births, travels, etc), and I augment it with whatever I can find in shared photos and on line. After I finish laying it out, I pass it off to yet another family member who snail-mails it to family groups and individuals in the family phone book. The same team has been doing this for the past eight years, I think. We couldn’t do it without the help and input of other family and family-related persons.

My DH has maintained the genealogy of his family line and related family lines, taking up where his father (who did a HUGE chunk) left off. Some records and lines been documented back to Charlemagne (sp?) and oh my goodness there are a lot of names that intermingle. The work that goes into tracing lineage is a time sponge. People do it for the fun of detecting, for the pride in past familial accomplishments, and for the stories of the people connected in their past. They make history “real” in a tangible way.

And here I am. A heretic who likens genealogy to cattle breeding. Actually, in animals, it makes sense. In humans, not so much. Not always, anyway. I think the real sticky part for me is the concept of what constitutes family. I gotta tell you, those breeding charts ain’t what makes family. Sometimes I wish they did and then we could all live in Pleasantville. Every child would be wanted and planned for. Everyone, young and old, would be safe in their own home. There’d be enough work, food, clothing, and medical care for everyone. Not even in America does that happen.

I probably wouldn’t be so angry about “family” if the same validity was given to those who become family without benefit of clergy or bloodlines. You know, the friends who are there for you through thick and thin, and the mentors who guide and cheer you. The friends who make your personal family all that much better because they are there. I love them and they are more “real” to me than any bloodline I’ll be seeing this week. How can I add those names to my family line?

These marvelous, talented, loving people have shaped my life, changed who I am, and who I will be, just by being a part of my life. I figure they have had as much a part of my “breeding” as the sperm and egg donors. After all, they are the ones who were/are a part of life. People I know, know of, and know me. That’s what family is to to me.

A cynical aside notes that I, personally, did no actual breeding. I would’ve if I could’ve, but since I was blessed with two wonderful children to raise in love and pride, it hardly matters to me what manner they came home. And having the definite joy of sharing my DH’s grown children (and grandchildren!) as well…well…I consider myself well-blessed indeed.