When I was growing up in Louisiana, family reunions were a real tradition. You don’t hear about them so much anymore. But, back before we all had cameras on our phones and the ability to share info with the click of button , the reunion was the way to gather, meet the newest additions to family, celebrate milestones and simply catch up on each other’s lives.
Wikipedia describes a family reunion as “an occasion when many members of an extended family get together…for a meal, some recreation and discussion.” I can’t think of a better way to describe the Great Harvest convention coming up in a couple of weeks.
Each year, bakery owners, employees and folks like me from the franchise office gather together for an annual meeting of the minds, a little learning and a lot of celebration. On opening night, you can hear squeals across the room as the next family member arrives and is greeted by others in the crowd.
As with most family reunions there is food – lots of it. But the meals are more about chatting than chewing. The newer members of our family are eagerly soaking up all the knowledge they can from the “old timers” who are happy to share what they’ve learned with those who are just getting their bakeries underway or have been open for only a short time. It puts you in the mind of those family reunions where the elders of the group want to pass down their histories and knowledge to those who’ll carry on the family name long after they are gone.
Sure, there are sessions taught on topics from how to get strategic with your online marketing to implementing the newest recipes. It is business after all. But there is always a little time built in for recreation and fun outside of the planned events. One of my fondest memories is taking a hot air balloon ride over the Napa Valley with a couple of my favorite bakery owners and franchise office friends. There’s something special about having folks around that you really care about when you are able to check something off your “bucket list” (and to hold your hand when you think you may back out!)
It’s often said that you can’t choose your family. But, I think in this case, I got lucky and was able to join a great one. While we may not be “kin”, we look at ourselves that way. And here shortly, I’ll have the pleasure of being with my relatives again.