Each year, during the second week of July, my Family gets together for our annual Family reunion. As with all Families, we have relatives who travel from across the U.S. to partake in the activities that include a dinner, talent show, fashion show and a cookout, which seems to grow each year.

Before 2000, we held our Family reunion every other year. Once the “Y2K scare” came about and the loss of several Family members in the following years, my grandmother decided that we should get together every year.

When we first started our yearly reunions, the attendance was about 80 relatives. Last year, we celebrated with more than 250 Family members and “extended Family members.” In my opinion, that ever-increasing number speaks volumes about our Family and it is something that the Rogerses are very proud of. Not that we’ve produced 170 offsprings, but of the fact that so many other members of the community and Family friends have made our Family gathering a high-priority, or must-see event. My grandmother is without a doubt our Family matriarch. People just love her and the way she interacts with others. She has always found a way to feed the masses, which has become a Family tradition that I’m sure, will continue throughout the years. How do I know this? I know it because my Aunt Mary Ann has taken over the responsibility of planning the entire reunion months in advance.

Of course she receives help from all Family members. For example, my Aunt Liz creates the invitations and ensures that everyone receives theirs in a timely manner. My cousins and other aunts provide various dishes — no catering here, baby! My brother and I, along with my son, when he visits during the summer, prepare my grandmother’s yard to ensure that there’s room for the children to run and play freely. My Uncle Mitch runs the open bar (yes, we have an outside bar). I provide the music (did I mention that I am a deejay in my spare time?) and, either my Cousin Jelon or my Uncle Larry will host the festivities for the evening.

Everyone has individual responsibilities and we realize the importance of carrying out our duties so that the event can continue to be successful.

This year, we’re expecting at least 375 people to attend, including a long-lost cousin and her Family, who left Wagram, N.C. in 1969 and hasn’t been seen since. It was by chance that her daughter sent an e-mail message to a person whom she believed to be her uncle and we were able to re-connect a broken line of communication. We found out that they live in New Orleans and were directly affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2004. That’s kind of ironic, considering that I was in New Orleans providing humanitarian support with the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood, Texas, in the days following the devastating storm.

I encourage everyone to take time to celebrate with your Families because once they’re gone, it’s too late! Take care.