In “the good ol’ days,” Jim and Shirley Cox, of Plantation, celebrated their annual family reunion at their beach house in a little coastal town called Garden City in South Carolina. The reason for the reunion was simple: to bring family members together. There was no schedule of activities to be planned, no internet ideas, themes, resources, free reunion registry and message boards or invites to address and deliver…via email. There was only the anticipation of 24 hours of shared memories and another day in which new ones could be made, and undoubtedly last a lifetime.
Four generations later, that tradition is still on and the Cox Family is planning to reunite on July 4. But this reunion is bittersweet as the beach house has been sold, and this will be the last time getting together at a place that holds so many memories. “We have been gathering at my father’s beach home ever since I can remember,” said a sentimental Kristi Rogan, the oldest daughter out of five Cox siblings who attends Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. “Before that our reunions were at my grandfather’s log cabin near a river in South Carolina.”
Kristi reminisces over that magical time when she and her two brothers and two sisters, as well as their first cousins who lived nearby, would spend most of the day by the boat dock where they played with their black inner-tubes in the river’s murky water. From sunrise to sunset, their naked feet barely touched the floor of the river. They built memories in the Carolinas where there’s an abundance of waterfalls, forests, and river views from which to also get lost in time.
An affair for the whole family cannot be complete without a ridiculous amount of food for every discriminating taste. And as per the Cox Family tradition, the older women pitch in to create some of their favorite southern recipes. “Sweet tea, pecan pie, corn bread, fried chicken…the food is amazing and the vegetables are fresh, hand-picked from my great aunt and uncle’s farms,” Rogan said, but that’s not all. It also included hand-churned, homemade ice cream — the best of the South. It’s been rumored that people drive 500 miles for that stuff! And to go with all that great food and ice cream… the time to catch-up. “We talk a lot! Southern people are known for that and for our amazing accent, of course!”
Summertime is the best time for families to come together, to bind those ties that create a circle of strength and love for one another. For the Cox Family, which has made it a priority to get together for decades; America’s Independence Day couldn’t come soon enough.
“My father and mother have always put family first, and that kind of thinking was instilled in my sisters and brothers, as well as myself,” explained Rogan, whose four children, now adults and some with families of their own, have been raised to intentionally reach out to their families, especially their cousins whom are the same age.
“It’s cool how even though we don’t see each other for months at a time, we just move about comfortably with one another when we meet up again. Teaching the next generation is about making this summer event important, to not take it for granted, rather, to continue it for generations to come.”
Part of that teaching is to pass on the family stories. Rogan’s best memories are the stories of old that have been passed down from generation to generation.
“I have always found it fascinating to listen to my grandfather or my uncles tell stories of their childhoods. Time was simple then, and their memories are impeccable. Their stories let us understand historical moments, like World War II and the Depression, as well as baseball as a favorite pastime and working on farms…priceless memories.”
The Cox Family is planning a new family reunion destination for next year. They have vowed to keep this tradition going. Their family reunions are an important part of who they are as a family.
“We laugh, we cry, we reminisce, we share Jesus, and we create an indelible connection that will never be broken,” said Rogan. “It keeps each one of us connected spiritually as each day I will think of one of my relatives, and I will either laugh out loud at a story, or I will pray for someone who’s going through a difficult time.”
In a time when the family circle has never been more under attack by the advancement of technology, which in many cases has disrupted family time, as individuals of all ages find it difficult to disconnect from their smart phones, computers, and other communication devices for a few seconds, let alone for an entire day, family reunions are very important for each member of the family. It helps us understand our heritage, and in many ways it tells the story of us. They also remind us that while we may choose our jobs, the places in which we live and even our circle of friends, families are a gift from God. With them we share something of each other, a link, a oneness. “Family. We may not have it all together, but together we have it all,” said Rogan.
Maritza Cosano is a freelance writer/editor, writing teacher and author of the young adult book series, The Ghostwriters and a children’s book series entitled, The Adventures of Mikaela. She offers editorial and publishing services for writers and can be reached at