Thursday, July 2, 2015

Reunion Quilts

Most people probably don't think "quilts" when they think of family reunions. But I (Teri) have the privilege of belonging to a family where quilts play an integral role in that event. Each year on the last Sunday in June, my father's family meets at a small park in Pennsylvania for our annual family reunion. Many generations of various branches of my great great grandparents' family gather to share good food, visiting, and fun—a 34-year tradition. My Great Aunt Leona, my grandmother's youngest sister, is the major organizer of the reunion, and she puts a great deal of love and effort into making the day a special one for all of us.

The family, over 80 years ago, whose descendants meet at our annual family reunion. My grandmother is pictured in the back on the far left.

About thirty years ago, a small group of women in the family started to gather each year to make a full-size quilt for a door prize at the reunion. There are also smaller quilts for different age groups. Everyone who attends the reunion can sign their name on the list for the appropriate age group, and later in the afternoon, names are drawn and the quilts awarded. There is also an opportunity to donate to the American Heart Association and enter a drawing for a wall-hanging. I think it is wonderful to see the whole extended family, including the children, excited about receiving these quilts stitched with love.

One year, I thought I would like to try to join the group to work on the quilts. They meet every week beginning in August to plan, piece, and quilt. I made it once and had a wonderful time stitching with great aunts, second cousins, and even meeting a few cousins I'd not met before. Unfortunately, due to the distance and a too-busy schedule, I was unable to continue to work with them. Would that I lived closer! I admire the work that they do and the way they stitch their love around our family.

Here are some highlights from this year:

This year's quilt for young boys...
...and the winner.

A pink puff rag quilt for the young girls.

Fifty dollars was raised to donate to the American Heart Association this year. Donors were eligible to win this wall-hanging with heart-shaped flowers.

This beauty was loved by the young...
...and old alike!

The drawing for the teenagers was a bit different this year. (I'm afraid I neglected to take a photo of it.) One of my second cousins made a cornhole set to go with a collection of hand made corn bags. What a treat!

But the moment everyone looks forward to is the unveiling of The Quilt.

Everyone waits in eager anticipation to see the finished quilt, opened up just before the drawing. Note the label in the top left corner, which includes great detail and explanation about the quilt and is signed by all the makers.

close up

I have yet to win The Quilt, but I am the proud owner of several smaller pieces that my family has received over the years. The "cake stand" mini-quilt on the left hangs in my dining room, and the flag below flies at the bottom of our basement stairs. Some are hand quilted, some by machine. All are a testament to the love that these ladies have for their family. This year, my brother and I took turns being the "winner of the hour;" I won the patriotic table runner, and he got place mats. 

So what do quilts have to do with reunions? In our family, everything!


  1. What a fun tradition! All these stories make me want to learn how to quilt. So glad you two are sharing these with the world. :)

  2. Thank you, Jessica! We are so glad you are enjoying our stories, and we hope you WILL learn to quilt and create your own stories. And when you do, please share with us!

  3. Our family reunion last for a week at Myrtle Beach SC. We have anywhere from 100 to 150 family members attending for the entire week. We have a different activity planned every day. At our ladies brunch, we draw for a chance to possess for a year, the family quilt, which was made by several family members of 4 generations and is autographed by all attending reunion.

    1. What a wonderful tradition, Kitty! I love the idea of the family quilt, giving everyone a chance to cherish it for a year and create stories and memories of having it. Thanks for sharing your story with us!