The drama involved in family unions represents the say-so typical family – inevitably mum and dad, there's the families with the children turn up, then there is the one recently returned from some trip, the one who works a long way away, the so called back sheep family member, and so it goes on.
At family reunions the hilarious is recounted in great detail, sadness are spoken of, beloved stories are retold, each family member gets their say and the great family secrets are kept under wraps.
The spouses and partners become part of these family reunions as rituals and as the years go on as parents and / or grand-parents get to their twilight years so to the family turns its attention to these issues as all families.
When I googled 'family reunions' up came a wide range of sites that lists different kinds of family reunions, those outside the immediate family. There are heritage family reunions where those from a distinguished line of early settlers meet. There are family reunions of a family name which encompass a wide circle of the community. I recall when serving as the Australian cricket team chaplain, Allan Border said he attended a 'Border' family reunion. (en.wikipedia.org)
Two traditional occasions for family reunions are weddings and funerals. These events bring together people who have travelled far and it's certainly a time to catch up, time for hugs, tids bits of information are gleaned, these are special times, but when it's over, it's over, and back to the routines we go.
In our family situation the weddings have provided a happy time where everyone gathers and we've all caught up with this and that, conversations shared, news and gossip gulped with various degrees of aplomb.
So too funerals. We recently were part of my brother-in-law's funeral in Canberra. John was one of those typically a good Aussie guys, loved his family, entertaining at work, served in his church, died in his 50's due to stroke, leaving a widow and two young adult children.
In this instance family came from across the nation, especially his side of the family from Adelaide. We heard about the childhood pranks all boys get up to, the wrestling in the lounge, then onto university, and marriage and family and the like. The four speakers, of whom I was one, all gave an account of some aspect of his life and times.
An every family experience
Every family experiences these reunions of this dynamic, whether they be weddings or funerals or whatever. No longer are they the CEO of some international corporation, or some mucky-muck in the Public Service, or a giant of the finance or retail industry. They are a member of that family and fit into a particular slot within that intimacy.
Six weeks ago our family enjoyed an engagement party, Our youngest who is 23 had a bbq luncheon with about 35 family and friends. We met for the first her beau's parents and had a quiet morning tea in a coffee shop before the broader celebrations.
Then the mob came – eldest with husband and two children, one from Melbourne, one from the Gold Coast and of course the engaged couple. The intended's wider family members were also there – the family increases – and so on it went. It was great and we'll now all meet again for the wedding early in 2014.
Jesus was involved in family gatherings. There was one where the wine ran out, there was another when Peter's mother-in-law fell gravely ill, there was another one when on the Cross and in the pangs of death, spoke to his mother and her future care.
Families are the backbone of the society. Deuteronomy 6 spells it out as it does in numerous passages in the New Testament. There are many Christian ministries that focus on the family and it's welfare and contribution to the nation. The family is central and we comfort and express genuine solace for those without a family.
Recent figures showing the dearth of Australian families now willing to take on Foster children which illustrates the intrinsic value of the family. The laws are such that many today will not take the risk of having their reputations and own families destroyed by false allegations – moreover departmental staff that lie through their teeth – we'll look after you - then take the child's side regardless of how ridiculous the claim.
A recent television interview program on Christian Television with Karl Faase showed that it was still reasonably accommodative for housing foster children under 7 but over that age and on into the teenage years, it becomes problematic to say the least. One of our own Well-Being Australian board members has fostered three children from the same mother and worked through the legal issues to adopt them all. Their first family have grown up, then started again. There are good stories out there.
Families are precious, look after the ones you have, enjoy the relationships, build the good-will, express the love, weep for them, pray for each one, rejoice in their achievements, cry with them, and be a calming influence upon any troubled waters.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at