Today was the first day of our three day family reunion. We rotate and each of us are in charge of planning it every other year. This was my year. I've been thinking about what I'd like to do for years...making lists, planning, etc. But of course, when it finally comes, I'm still up until 4 am the night before. Last night I was sewing treat bags and copying a family history coloring book.
My plan has been to focus on my Grandparents, so that our kids can learn some of our family history. My Mom's parents were wonderful people and I've always wanted our children to appreciate them. Plus, they led exciting, history book lives that sound glamorous and eventful to our kids, and yet so far removed from our current reality. Grandpa was a cowboy, rancher, cattle inspector and Sheriff. How cool is that!?! We have great stories about him, like the time he lost a finger roping and finally found it in the manure. He would earn extra money by catching and breaking wild mustangs in the mountains and once as Sheriff he roped a bear that was in a tree.
Grandma was an amazing storyteller and often told us stories about the indians in territorial Arizona, that had been passed on through old ballads. I wanted all the kids to learn a little about the way things used to be. So I specifically asked everyone to leave their toys and technology at home. Grandpa was a marbles champ and Grandma used to play jacks without Jacks or a ball. They would use small stones and you had to pick up a pebble and catch your "ball" without a bounce!
We took some family pictures and ate first, then we moved on to our planned activities. We began with storytelling. Didger told an old fave called "Mary Obeys". It's about a man and his daughter who lived a ways from town. When there was an Indian threat, the townspeople would ring a bell calling the farmers in, so they could be in town for protection. Mary and her Father heard the bell one day and began toward town. But before they could get close, the saw that they were surrounded by Indians. Mary's dad had her hide inside a hollowed out tree that had been hit by lightning. He covered her with leaves and sticks and told her that he would be back for her and not to move. He was captured by the indians and taken prisoner. They hobbled his ankles and made him work for the squaws, carrying water, digging, planting, etc. It was several years before he could escape. When he did, he went home looking for Mary. He didn't find her there, and went to town asking about his daughter. No one had seen her. Not since before the indian attack. In terror, he went to the hollow tree. There, he found her decomposed body. Mary had obeyed and waited faithfully for him to come back for her as he had promised.
Yeah. Can you believe we begged to hear that and more, every time we spent the night at Grandma's?
I told some other favorites like: "Katie Hatch" (a little girl who got lost and died - all they found was some hair caught on a barbed wire fence, and her little shoes with the socks pushed way down in the toe like she always did. They assume she was eaten by wild animals. - True story! The largest search ever in Arizona.)
"And they sang and danced around her..." (This mother hid her children in the cellar when the indians came. They ate her out of house and home, then tied her to a post outside, and they sang and danced around her while she had to watch her house burn with her children still hidden inside.)
and a happy one, "The Piano Box Children" (About Jim and his little sister Mary, who lived during the Great Depression. They had no parents and were homeless. They lived in a piano box. Jim would provide for them by doing odd jobs and carrying groceries for people. One day he found a wallet that a wealthy lady dropped. It was full of money. He returned the wallet to her, with the money still in it. When she found that he and his sister were homeless, she took the two sweet, honest children home to live with her. And they lived happily ever after - because they were honest, hardworking, and kind.)
Then we taught the kids some old fashioned games. We split up into groups and rotated through centers. Each of my kids taught different games: Hopscotch, Jumprope, Marbles, and Jacks. Each child received a Sheriff's badge, a set of marbles, and a set of jacks. (Thank you Oriental Trading!)
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