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family reunions
seize the opportunity to collect & create memories

By Deborah K. Millemaci
(return to genealogy)

Finding the links to our past can be fun but it can become more meaningful if family members are involved. A great way to accomplish this is participating in family get-togethers and reunions. Family dinners, birthdays, anniversaries, births, etc. are wonderful occasions for collecting the family together and celebrating these events. Family reunions are truly special though as they involve extended members of our families that we may not see as often.

Our family reunions revolved around our annual family picnic at a local park. Back then, the "elder uncles and nephews" notified everyone of the where, when, time, and family members just showed up. I remember as a child my father and my uncle Joe would always try to see who could arrive at the park shelter the earliest. My dad would wake us up while it was still dark outside, load up the car with boxes of food prepared the night before, grill, chairs, games, playpen, extra clothes and games and begin what ended up to be a very long day. Most of the time my uncle arrived at the shelter the same time as we this day I have never figured out how he was able to do that !!

Having breakfast in the park with the aunts, uncles, and cousins, was always a great start to our day. The women would sit at one picnic table, the men at another, and when it was time to start preparing the tables with food, my uncles and some cousins would play a couple games of bocce ball or horseshoes. Every family brought baked macaroni, salad greens, and the enticing aroma of homemade Italian sausage mingled with the rest of the tantalizing food being served.

Even better than the food was to listen to the stories told by the aunts and uncles as to how life was when they were growing up. I never realized how important those stories would be until I began researching my family history. Back then life didn't seem as hectic and families were able to spend more time together. But today, many family relatives live out-of-town and that can make organizing a reunion difficult. However, this doesn't mean family reunions are impossible. With a little organization and planning, this special occasion can be an event that your family will look forward too and enjoy.

Organizing your own family reunion
There are several ways you can have a successful family gathering and with these suggestions, I�m sure you will be able to come up with some unique ways to make your reunion a success.

  • Don't sweat the small stuff --Handling all the details of such an important event can prove stressful, so enlist the help of relatives and involve them in the preparations. Discussions should include date, time, place, food, and theme.
  • Longer isn't always better --Length of the reunion is another consideration. Is it to be a one-day gathering or will it span over a few days? If you choose to have it over several days, then it is important to check out accommodations for out-of-town relatives who will be attending especially if they cannot stay with family. The holiday season is always a great time for gathering the family together and celebrating family traditions. Summertime is also another popular time for assembling the family together, but anytime is a good time for sharing stories with aunts, uncles, and cousins.
  • Choose a theme --A Genealogy theme would include things like photos, recipes, treasured heirlooms, old family documents, old journals, etc. Don�t forget to have plenty of film and a tape recorder available for possible interviews. Anything that is an important piece of your family�s history is a thread that can be used to weave a story of your ancestors.
  • Play show and tell --When sending out details about your reunion, ask relatives to bring items pertaining to this theme to share. You might also want to consider special activities that would coincide with the memorabilia presented. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to plan your reunion.
  • Call in a professional --If you find that you need more help, another alternative is hiring someone to do all the organizing for you. You will also be able to find many resources on the internet that will serve as guides to assist you in preparing your family get-together.
  • Put it in writing --For relatives who live too far to attend, you might want to consider creating a "Family Reunion Newsletter." This is a great way to keep them updated with special events and also this is a way to keep in touch with everyone. These newsletters can be as simple or fancy as you wish depending on how creative you want to be.
What�s important is that your reunion brings family together to reminisce over old memories and help create new ones.

©Deborah K. Millemaci - 2002
No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the author.


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