Family Reunions 2015

My uncle holding his granddaughter, my first cousin, and
my grandmother (the baby's great grandmother)
at the Orsak reunion.

This summer I've attended two annual family reunions (Morkovsky and Orsak... at least my branch of the Orsaks - there a thousands of us in Texas!) and began helping to plan a third (Migl.) I have the opportunity to go to 4 reunions every other year and 5 in the years in between. At least I try to make them all.

The Orsak reunion was near Ganado on Lake Texana - a central location since many in our family still live in South Central Texas. I didn't just attend the reunion, it was my family's turn to host the event. 

The Morkovsky reunion was in Hallettsville in Lavaca County, where the family's patriarch and matriarch spent most of their lives. The oldest living member of the family reported that he thought this was the 80th annual reunion, which would make the photo below taken in 1936 at the 2nd annual reunion.

Morkovsky reunion in 1936 in Hallettsville. The house doesn't exist any more.
My grandmother, not even married yet, is fourth from the left in the middle row.
The children in the bottom row are now the oldest living generation,
and some of them have great grandchildren. Such is the circle of life. 
I tend to think about different issues regarding the reunions in different years. Sometimes I'm looking forward to seeing particular people; some years I'm focused on documenting the dishes everyone brought; sometimes I'm concerned about keeping my kids entertained, or nabbing homemade items at the silent auction, or wondering why the teenagers don't get to know each other. This was the first year in a very long time, I failed to write down every dish people brought to both reunions I attended. But below is a compiled list from both events of things I remember and things I did manage to write down. What fascinates me are the dishes that are ALWAYS brought, the surprises, and the ratio of homemade to store bought dishes.  

This would be a year that I could make 5 reunions (Migl only happens every other year.) But I'll have to miss the Kallus reunion in October in favor of the Texas Czechs exhibition I co-produced opening in Temple at the Czech Heritage Museum. Attending family reunions is one way I feel I'm helping to keep my Czech heritage alive for my children, but of course, so is the exhibition. 

Orsak reunion lunch spread.
Morkovsky reunion dessert spread. 

Salads and sides: squash casserole, okra gumbo, green beans, carrots, buttered peas, green beans with bacon, green bean casserole, baked beans, butter beans, sweet potatoes, buttered potatoes with onions, potatoes au gratin, corn on the cob, tossed green salad, spinach salad with strawberries and pecans, cannelini bean salad, 7-Layer dip and tortilla chips, pickled cabbage, garlic pickles, bread and butter pickles, fresh fruit, veggie trays with Ranch dip, deviled eggs, cucumber and tomato salads, pasta salads, loaves and white and wheat bread.

My father and my son at the Morkovsky reunion. 

Main dishes: sauerkraut and sausage, wedding stew, smothered steak with red potatoes and caramelized onions, pozole, ham with pineapple rings, baked ham, barbecued chickens, turkey and dressing, fried chicken, King Ranch casserole, sausage (both home made and commercially made), beef roast, pork loin, enchiladas.

Desserts: kolaches, brownies, Pina Colada pie and 7-Up cake, chocolate chip cookies and bars, apricot/cheese roll and poppyseed roll, banana pudding, cherry dump cake, chocolate cake, spice cake, iced cookies, lemon pound cake, angel food cake with strawberries and Cool-Whip, mini berry muffins, peanut butter/cream cheese dip with Vanilla Wafers.


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