In my Aunt Glo’s house, sat five generations strong. Seated next to me was my Aunt Clara in her early nineties-and in my cousin Driyaah’s belly – framed mid-waist full our newest addition to our Northwest tribe.
Frazier Family meetings are a mix between passing a bill between the house and the senate and the best African-American tear-jerker you ever saw. Yes-those soul pumping, heart-wrenching, vibrant stories of family, faith and grit. Stories that leave you laughing so you can cover the tears that have been falling and crying from the pain of that locked-in-can’t take a breath laughter.
In these monthly meetings, minutes are read, motions are passed and love is taught and today was caught. Our family has learned the art of governing and cultivating legacy. Monthly family events are scheduled, scholarships in honor of family, now in heaven are collected. This more formal approach of “keeping the family together “was the result of desiring to honor, the patriarch of our family-Joe Frazier.
For years, Granddaddy took it upon himself, to reel in his grown children and growing grands with Friday night Fish Fries, and spur of the moment Bar-B-Ques. It would be nothing to walk up those steep-long-painted-again-and again-white porch stairs and be greeted with the sound of thirty or more family members laughing hard and shouting louder the tales, trials and testimony of life.
As a child and even as an adult, I had taken for granted, contentment-soaked from security-established by sacrifices-made-for me to grab “my”plate and come, over and over, again and again to eat from this table.
So when Grandaddy died, so did his offering and vision of connectedness and family circle. We were lost as an extended family. Weddings, funerals and baby showers were the only times we gathered as “Frazier’s”.
Until the one day, when somebody decided it was time to gather again. And maybe it wasn’t just a “one somebody”, I imagine it was several family members that had ached long enough from the void and displacement of our close-knit tribe.
This summer we will celebrate 15 years of that committed circle on both sides of our Frazier Family tree (in a future post I will share our family tree-too much and too rich to post here). Uncles, aunts, cousins and adopted-in family branches have become a part of the “Frazier Family Committee”.
And yesterday this committee declared that the time has come for me and my generation of cousins, children, nieces and nephews to be grafted into this fabric of tradition of less “take” and more “sacrifice”.
It is so easy as we become more settled and secure in our own lives of immediate family, work and life, to forget to nurture the root you branched from. Hurt feelings, missed opportunities and even wrongs made, help to greater wedge the divide. And of course there needs to be room for “leave and cleave” but room must also be made for “gather and thrive”.
I don’t mean to meddle, but with Easter just a week away I want to challenge you-and I to shake down our family trees. Before decorating your personal branch of family tradition, new clothes and feasted table-gather fruit of generations past.
Invite that distant cousin, or adopted niece over for Easter Sunday for dinner. Call that grandmother or great-aunt or uncle, stop by their nursing home. Drop by an Easter basket or pound cake to that new young Momma or budding young couple who needs some of “your family” tradition. Write a long letter, send a card of redemption and hope to family locked-up or living forgotten-from afar.
This is Holy Week y’all let’s live with intention-setting ourselves a part from the “take-take-take” culture, we live in and on pilot-participate with. Let’s “give-give-give” till love and hope transfer bright-fresh light and new life-to those nearest to us-whose names we carry and sacrifice we hold-“taking” less and “giving” more.