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Q

Should We Hold A Family Reunion? Some Things To Consider

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A

A family reunion can help fill a void in many families today, giving us an opportunity to psychologically go home for a few hours or days to revisit memories and enjoy a sense of kinship with the people who share our family tree. An important benefit of a family reunion is that it can help bridge the gap between generations.

In an extended family of any size, there will likely be family members who have died since the last gathering, relatives who have brought a new spouse into the family and babies who have joined the family. This is a great reminder of the dynamics of family life, as well as the shortness of life. Reunions can provide us with a feeling of rootedness — that we are part of something much larger than ourselves. Family gatherings can help us see the importance of maintaining contact with our family as long as that opportunity is present.

Reunions can also build a safety net for this and future generations. Properly planned, they can be a powerful anchor to give stability to the extended family in times of rapid change and social turbulence.

Some suggested activities for a family reunion include:

* Photographing the family as well as exchanging photos.
* Exchanging cherished and important family documents.
* Eating food made from family recipes.
* Getting reacquainted with relatives.
* Sharing family stories or memories. These should be audio- or videotaped and preserved for future generations.
* Gathering pictures to make a family slide show.
* Playing games with prizes for everyone.
* Bestowing awards for such things as the oldest, the family traveling the longest distance, the best singer or other awards suited to your family.
* Providing an opportunity for older family members to speak briefly of their past and share their wisdom.
* Updating family trees.
* Renewing commitments to stay in touch with each other through letters, emails, phone calls and visits.
* Sharing favorite family music.
* Having a talent show.
* Providing miniworkshops featuring topics of concern to the family.
* Pooling resources to help a family member or a cause.

It is important that reunions be well planned so ample time is available to visit, to learn, to experience and to be involved. Each person attending needs the opportunity to participate in some way.

Alex Haley, author of “Roots” said, “The family that comes together in a reunion — whether it is the first or the 25th — finds sanctuary that nurtures all of it. This is important because, quite simply, the family is the reason all of us are here. From man’s first tottering steps on earth, the family has created life, sustained it and enriched it. The family is our refuge and springboard; nourished in it, we can advance to new horizons. In every conceivable manner, the family is a link to our past and bridge to our future.”

Posted on 21 Jun 2001

Glen Jenson
Family and Human Development Specialist

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