Family reunion: Davidson County style
The best sermons are lived, not preached. That's the lesson I've learned from my Davidson County family.
My family held a reunion the weekend before Memorial Day at the home of my uncle, Richard Wray. Though unspoken, he's considered the family patriarch and lives a wisdom better than Duck Dynasty's Si Roberson.
He practiced conservation long before “go green” became a state of being. Survey his property and you will find examples — an old license plate that covers up a hole in the barn and a hand-wringer wash tub, suspended from a tree, holds petunias. Plowed up stones border a tree.
(The red spade plow now suspends a welcome sign.)
Richard doesn't get around as much any more, but his sons — Ronald, Lewie and Buddy — prepared the homesite for the reunion.
Chairs and tables are set up on the wrap-around porch. Sawhorses and plywood are used as the serving area.
A handmade windmill welcomes all. A clematis planted by Earlene, God rest her soul, smiles in the sunlight. The land rolls with vines and a few crops.
I’m sure the reunion takes a pile of work by all the Wrays, but there's a calmness at the home that just says, "That's OK. We're happy to do it. It's for family."
As a reminder, my Aunt Sarah Wray Luther calls the more forgetful ones (me) . She did a good job getting us all there. The kids of our kids brought their children. This year, we wore name tags.
During our sit-down meal we share stories about the brothers and sisters — Bill, Herman, Mazel, Shag, Bertha, Peggy, Ruby,Richard, Sarah and Margaret — who brought us into this world. Mazel, Richard, Sarah and Margaret are still with us.
I made barbecue chicken, the traditional reunion recipe of my mother, Ruby. There’s lots of KFC, Bojangles and homemade vegetables. There is always sliced onion.
After we eat, some of the younger folks, and those who still think they are young, play volleyball. Most of us head to the rockers or the swings and just talk.
Sarah said we've held this reunion continuously for decades. The first one I remember was at the home of my Aunt Pearl, the twin sister of my grandmother Saline, who lived on Noah Town Road, across from what used to be Coy Lambeth's Grocery. Guess I was about 5 or 6. I don't remember the food as much as I remember running with all my cousins, especially Judy Wray Lambeth.
The annual family reunion allows me to come home to my Davidson County roots, a place where family matters most. We have lawyers, preachers, editors, soldiers, deacons and sinners, but at the end of the blessing, we know we have each other.
No, we didn't get meta-physical or blow up anything. Yeah, I know, Si says you're family when you blow up something together.
Come to think of it, though, some my country cousins did wear camo and have really long beards and kind hearts. Some of us have a special Tupperware glass for sweet ice tea. We’ve had squirrel stew on the table.
Maybe my Davidson County roots have a lot in common with Duck Dynasty.
Jase Robertson, the son of Duck Dynasty's Phil and Kay Robertson, said this to Todd Starnes of FOX News: “The bottom line is we are trying to do what’s right. We don’t just say we believe in God — we have active relationships with God.”
Yep, the best sermons are lived, not preached.