How can you create a family reunion to remember for years to come? Here are a few great tips. And the best part is, you'll be doing a little family history while having fun!
Family reunions. What thoughts stir in your brain when you hear those words? For me there are many and they are mixed with happiness and a bit of anxiety. But I know the anxiety part shouldn’t be there and I am determined to fix that. In order to do that, I need to add some organization to each reunion and provide chances for family stories to unfold. I know, I know, no one wants to be that family member who people want to run and hide from when they arrive because they’re the “family history person.” But folks, we should all be “that family history person” and incorporate some stories and history into the day. How, do you ask? Let’s talk about it.
As a kid, I quite enjoyed family reunions. It meant cousin time which was always my favorite and it usually meant adventures. My large extended family had a yearly reunion in Malad, Idaho, in a large pasture surrounded by a woodsy area we could always go and explore. There was a great mountain with hiking trails nearby and the food was always divine.
As a young adult, my maternal grandparents’ family grew big enough that we started having “destination” reunions in the western United States. A fabulous time, but a little stressful with my tiny and growing family. Now that same family has exploded in size and we settle for a one-day family reunion in the closest local city. The day falls closest to my grandparents’ anniversary, even though they passed away 15 years ago. After each reunion, I’m always glad I went, but I kind of dread getting there beforehand. Anyone feel the same way?
My husband’s family is a terrific model for family reunions and I have learned a lot from their example. I want to offer a few ideas they have tried and others I have stumbled on over the years. And a note to my family: I will be hoping to incorporate some of these ideas in the coming years!
1. Share some stories (and record them)
In most families, there is usually one group put in charge of the reunion each year and it rotates between families. This is true in my family’s and my husband’s. When we were newly married, we attended a reunion where the family in charge brought old journal entries from their ancestors who had passed on. One of the family members read from the journals, but when she did she also put on an article of clothing from that great grandma. I’m not totally sure it was hers, but it was from the era that she was alive. It was a sweet little hat. As she read the journal entry, I was touched because she had written a promise to pray continually for her family members to have religion in their lives. She committed to also pray for them after she died. As the entry was read, many of us felt the spirit of her words. We were then given copies of the journal entry to keep. It was a sweet and wonderful moment and I love that we have that entry and that promise. It was a simple act by this reunion organizer, but it was powerful.