Family Reunion -

Family Reunion

...been there AND got the T-shirt!
It's red and the "Newton" is written in fancy black letters. And descendants of four generations of George and Maggie Newton were tagged by the shirts last weekend in my hometown.

The Saturday cookout was the highlight for me. We gathered under a low-hanging canopy of trees and reminisced. Some had longer memories than others. The most treasured were those that linked us to the beginning, to the couple that called the small southern Arkansas town their home. He of one race...she another. Both emboldened by their apparent affection for the other. More than 100 years later, there we were with years of family photographs on DVD, music on iPods, and a host of other engagements clogging our blackberrys. But the tradition of family, for almost all who hold a membership in one, is timeless.

Bear with me, but as I looked around the celebration: we all looked alike! Big eyes, wide smiles, and an easygoing manner. But you know, there's always a relative who thinks Simon Cowell is looking for him. And the dream is nurtured with a little libation. I noticed...we're a tall clan, too. Most of the women are above average height. And the men are -- what's known in those parts -- as a "tall drink of water". The youngest Newton is my 22 month-old niece, Piper, who's in the 99th percentile for height.

I was a toddler the last time I took that many photos. Besides keeping your eyes open during the pictures, here's my advice if there's a family reunion in your summer plans: wear comfortable jeans, shorts, or capris so you're outfitted for the three-legged race; pack a few extra toothpicks for the bar-be-que; and pay close attention to the stories told by the gatekeepers of the family history. They will bequeath the tradition to you.

Oh, and remember to save the t-shirt! It really will be worth something one day.

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