Viewpoint: Mack family sets a great example for the rest of us
BY DERONE McNEILL
A few weeks ago while in Mooresville, I ran into some people who were in town for a family reunion. After talking with them briefly, I discovered that this wasn't just any family reunion. These were the family members of a very significant individual who had a lot to do with the history and development of the city of Moresville.
We talked for some time about all the family members who were already in town as well as those who were on the way. Every other year, these family members come from all over the world to meet and spend time with their family members. Each day is planned out detail by detail. Whether it is an afternoon of grape smashing, playing golf or a day at the indoor go-kart track, there is something for everyone of all ages.
After several daily activities, followed by a nightly cornhole competition -- one family member is nationally ranked, the weekend is capped by a formal banquet for around 400 family members at the Charles Mack Citizen Center. During this time, the Mack family takes the time to honor the late Charles Mack and several other family members who were and still are a major part of the past and future of the Mack family.
Sounds to me like the Mack family is pretty serious about securing the history of their ancestors by regularly holding what I've always known as a family reunion. When I relocated to Western North Carolina, I was surprised at how many families weren't having family reunions regularly. I thought every family in America couldn't wait to show up at some community center with a variety of special dishes, matching shirts and lots of pictures to share with everyone. Oh, the joys of seeing all the cousins, aunts and uncles that you've either never met or haven't seen in years. It was such a special time, an opportunity to share childhood stories, some of which were retold year after year, and watch your older brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents and others enjoying all of the memories they made together.
What happened to those days? What happened to the times when we used to get together as a family to celebrate each other's victories, encourage each other through life's challenges, and reminisce about the family members who paved the way and have gone on before us?
I think I'm one of the lucky ones. In just a few weeks I'll head down to Eastern North Carolina to spend time with both sides of my family. We'll have meals, play games, share stories and pictures, and catch up on what's going on with each other. We'll also make new memories that will last a lifetime. For me, this time will be one of the highlights of my year.
It wasn't always so important to me. I remember a time when clearing my calendar to make sure I could attend each year wasn't really my priority. At times, I was content with sending my wife and kids down without me, feeling like I was doing my due diligence by making sure my family was represented. As I've aged, my parents, brothers and sisters, along with my children, have gotten older, and I now realize that setting aside this time should be a priority. The book of James chapter 4 verse 14 says, "How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog, it's here a little while then it's gone."
It's very true that life could be here today and gone tomorrow. With that in mind, we should all take the time to value the moments we spent with our families. With the age of social media and all the electronic devices that we have in our homes, it's very easy to be in the house with each other physically but not be in touch with each other verbally, mentally, emotionally or physically. In our family, my wife has become the ultimate cheerleader in reminding us that at dinner time we are to put our electronic devices away. She's constantly reminding us that conversation and communication are the keys to the success of our family. When life gets so busy and we're all on the go, group texting is necessary. But when we have a moment to be in the same room at the same time, there's no better consolation than conversation. The family room should be more than a place for multiple desks to house laptops,computers, cellphones or iPads.
The word reunion simply means the act of reuniting, the state of being reunited. What better way is there to enjoy life than to be reunited with the ones we love? Why wouldn't you want to take time to enjoy your family and to find out all the things that they've been up to?
So if you're a family that still believes in family reunions and you still have one going on today, keep it going. But if you're a part of a family that has not embraced this tradition, find a way to make it happen. Some of us have big families and some of us have small families, but the truth is we all have some family. Even if it is in the way of an extended family, we can find a way to spend time to get together and be reunitedwith one another.
To the Charles Mack family, thank you for reminding me of the importance of bringing our families together. To those of you who plan and organize and put together these amazing events, thank you for your willingness to keep the faith, the memories and the histories of our loved ones before us by reminding us of just how special we are to say that we have family. As Tyler Perry once sang in one of his popular stage plays, "Ain't nothin’ like family."
Derone McNeill is a frequent columnist for SVLfreenews.com. He lives in Statesville.