Sunday, August 3, 2014

Family Reunions: Linking the Past, Present, and Future Part 1



Family reunions are the backbone of a strong family, linking the past, present, and future together with unconditional love. My memories of family reunions are special. I developed childhood friendships with my cousins that continue today.

But great family reunions don’t just happen; They take hard work and commitment.


The Planning Committee

“One wants to be together with one’s family. That’s what families are about” ~ Aung San Suu Yki
Ask a few family members to volunteer to participate on the planning committee. They will become the representatives of the family, which can involve surveying family members to determine locations, dates, and activities for the first reunion. Thereafter, you can vote on a location during the main family reunion event. It is important to note that you will not be able to please everyone, so record all ideas and try to incorporate as many as you can at each reunion. Whatever you cannot do at one reunion, do it at the next reunion. Some families hold reunions every year, while others hold them every two, five, or ten years. The planning committee should research hotels, restaurants, travel, and activities and communicate that information with family members.

The Events
“Memory is a child walking along a seashore. You never can tell what small pebble it will pick up and store away among its treasured things” ~ Pierce Harris
Provide a variety of activities—indoor/outdoor, group/individual, children/adult, and free/paid. My father’s side of the family has a banquet as the main event, but we also have sightseeing events and lunch that you can do in small groups or on your own. My husband’s family decided on a picnic at a park as the main event. Both events were fun and provided a way for family members to interact with each other. Consider getting t-shirts, jackets, visors, baseball caps, and buttons with the family name on it to celebrate the family bond.

The Connections
“It doesn’t matter what story we’re telling, we’re telling the story of family” ~ Erica Lorraine Scheidt
After the family reunion is over and relatives travel back home, how will you keep in touch? My father’s side of the family stays connected via a family newsletter. Family members submit family news and pictures. Then we email and mail copies out to family members. You can also keep in touch via Facebook, Twitter, a family web page, emails, letters, and phone calls. It’s a great idea to put together a family directory: names, addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers. This is helpful when sending out invitations or informing family members of a loved one’s illness or death. A family recipe book is another way to connect the past, present, and future. Encourage family members to share recipes and provide a little history behind the recipe. Ancestry.com is a helpful way to make connections. We recently made a new family connection when a family member learned of a DNA match on ancestry.com. 

The Support
“Like branches on a tree, our lives may grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one” ~ Unknown
Between reunions, support each other by going to celebratory events. We have a few artists in our family. Quite often their work is showcased at exhibits. Family members look forward to supporting them at these events. This year, our family reunion will focus on art. After our banquet, we will gather together in our hospitality suite at our hotel. Family members will bring art pieces they created and display them in the room. Although we only have a few professional artists in the family, we have a lot of family members who are creative. This will be a time for us to appreciate all talent.

The Future
“Generations pass like leaves fall from our family tree. Each season new life blossoms and grows benefiting from the strength and experience of those who went before” ~ Heidi Swapp
To keep the legacy going, instill in the children the importance of family. Give them a voice in the reunion planning, provide opportunities for them to interact with relatives their age as well as those younger and older, create a family tree together with them (include pictures when available), and discuss how family members are related.

“In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future” ~ Alex Haley

How have your family ties shaped your life? This is the story in you. Share it.

Domonique

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