Heritage Weekend

Every summer near Pioneer Day my family convenes at the cabin for a reunion. The point is to celebrate the people in our lives who have gone before and left a positive legacy for us. It’s about remembrance.

At Heritage Weekend, we talk about ancestors like my great-great-great grandmother Rhoda Stone, who was orphaned at age two in England, and whose life adventures are way better than any fancypants episode of Downton Abbey. 

She worked as a seamstress when she was a girl until her eyesight declined, then she worked in a rope factory to earn her own passage on a sailing ship to America. She lived in a dugout in Plain City, Utah with her husband, William England. One day the timbers holding up the earthen roof began to shake and dirt started falling around her. She grabbed her baby, Annie, and tossed her up the dugout steps, just as the roof collapsed. 

Her home was a hole in the ground that literally imploded, but she rose from it unharmed and hopeful. The message I take from Rhoda’s life is that with an abiding hope that one’s life can move forward and get better, it will.

I really needed an ancestor like Rhoda Stone England. God knew it.

I need her in my life because I need to know that I come from a family filled with tough, resilient, faithful, and capable women, who made things happen and really lived.

They did, and I am.

It was a lovely weekend, which would have been nicer if Dutch didn’t have to stay home with Jack, who was beating people up and being otherwise unruly and unpredictable. Real life includes lame reality checks like the family reunion that is missing half your family because of mental disabilities and unchecked aggression.


But. It was still a good weekend.

We played pioneer games. Sack races are kid-pleasers, because jumping.    

Alice is a charmer.

Greg, showing us how roasting marshmallows for s’mores over a cowboy cauldron is done. There are six marshmallows on that roasting stick, people. Dude.



 Campfire songs.

We planted a burr oak tree in honor of Matt’s grandpa, Harrison “Pete” O’Brien, in Legacy Grove.  

We had a real-life square dance with a caller named Lucky. There was hooting and hollering.  

A rowdy match of kickball was reminiscent of my second-grade year when kickball ruled recess.

Seriously, Idaho. Stop showing off.


Moonrise over barn dance. Preschoolers on hay bales.  

Heritage weekend, I can’t quit you.


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