One of the things I’ve inherited in marrying Jordan is his family’s annual tradition of a reunion in Buffalo Junction, VA — the birthplace of his grandmother. It’s a tradition that has stood for more than 25 years, and it’s one the family looks forward to every year.
If you’ve never heard of Buffalo Junction, well, that makes sense. It’s a tiny town close to the southern border of Virginia where you’ll encounter long stretches of farm land, no traffic lights, and no cell phone service (seriously, you might as well just turn it off).
Every year we spend our time in Buffalo Junction staying at the house in which Jordan’s 89-year-old grandmother was born in 1927. This year it was 17 of us who took up residence in the house (and somehow managed to share one bathroom that relies on well water).
The house isn’t fancy, but that, of course, isn’t at all what this trip is about. This trip is about the acres of space outside of the house, as opposed to inside. It’s the kind of setup that allows for running and whiffle ball in the yard and allows for laughter and reminiscing and board games that come from being on top of each other in the living room.The front porch of the house has a swing I could sit on for hours, and Jameson apparently loved it too. And for fun, here’s a photo of Jameson on the same porch swing last year. It’s crazy to see what a difference a year can make.Back to this year — Jameson was over the moon to spend so much time outside, especially with his every-increasing speed. The running was only interrupted by popsicle breaks. There was lots of quality time with his big cousins, who are seven and four-years-old. He’d wake up each morning and start calling their names before he’d make it out of the bedroom.And the family horse, named Lightning, had to be the biggest hit.
“Mommy, look! It’s a horse!”This kid was having the time of his life.In addition to all of the time outside, we had an afternoon dedicated to the Jamieson family reunion, which is for all of the descendants of Jordan’s great-great-grandfather, Oliver Jamieson, who was born into slavery in 1853. The reunion was full of more laughter, good soul food, family updates, and games. But for me, the very best part of the day was reading through a thorough family history put together by one of our relatives. It included genealogies and important documents, like a sharecropper agreement signed by Oliver Jamieson (slavery ended in Virginia with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1865, when Oliver was 12-years-old).
I’m not sure why knowing the story of your ancestors is so powerful. But we were all incredibly inspired to know our ancestors persevered through so much. And Jordan and I left with even more pride in having chosen to give Jameson the family name (though we altered the spelling for simplicity sake).
The final day of the reunion always involves attending Sunday service at Wharton Memorial Baptist Church, which Oliver Jamieson helped start and generations of his descendants attended as members. The music was the highlight for Jameson, and perhaps for me too (although just slightly ahead of the warmth and sincerity of the people who welcome us back into this church every year). At one point, Cousin George, our grandmother’s first cousin who is 96-years-old and amazingly spry, led the congregation in his rendition of “This Heart of Mine.” I’m easily moved by music, but there’s something that takes things to a whole ‘nother level when you hear an elder, who you know has lived through so many ups and downs, sing about things like, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’s blood and his righteousness. I dare not trust, the sweetest frame, but wholly trust in Jesus’s name.”
Time in Buffalo Junction makes me grateful for many things. For open spaces that contrast NYC. For family that helps chase my little boy around. For no phone service that forces me to unplug. For the retelling and creation of family stories. For such an empowering history and rich tradition of love and faith. Until next year, Buffalo Junction.