Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Family Time

Not my family!
Family reunions are a great source of family time. Not associated with holidays or weddings, birthdays or funerals, they provide a more relaxed atmosphere to enjoy your extended family and get the real dirt! I mean... informally interview your relatives.

My family attends two family reunions each summer, the Masons and the Youngs. (I just know that you are s-o-o jealous that I get to research such illustrious, ah-hem, common names.) I love these reunions for a number of reasons:

  1. Seeing relatives that I never get to see otherwise. Many of my Young cousins come from out-of-state for the reunion. Years could go by between visits with them. Some of the older relatives aren't getting around very well anymore and don't go to other family functions. But their children make sure they get to the reunions.
  2. Meeting the "new" relatives. Whether by birth or marriage, every family adds new members all the time. It is nice to have a face to go with the name and dates in my family history database.
  3. Sharing the family stories. You get cousin Danny together with Uncle Charlie and they still come up with stories that I have never heard before!
  4. Good food, mostly cooked from scratch. There was that one year that everyone, me included, stopped at KFC on the way to the reunion...
  5. Fun time! Both reunions have auctions and play Bingo to raise money to fund next year's reunion. Mind you, we are not talking cruise ship or destination family reunions. We need to raise just enough money to pay for the shelter at the local park and maybe for the paper plates and plastic forks.  But we have fun with it. Like when cousin Rosie got into a bidding war with my brother Darrell, who is bald and notoriously cheap. Then she dropped out leaving him holding a gift bag full of shampoo!
There are also some things that I don't like about family reunions: 

  1. Weather that doesn't cooperate. This year, the park where the Mason reunion is held was under water just a week before the reunion. And it rained the day of the reunion. We've had to wear hooded sweatshirts during the Young reunion in August!
Yeh, it is pretty much just the weather.

So how do you make the most of your family reunion?
  1. Bring a camera. Or camera phone. But TAKE PICTURES. At the Young family reunion we take family group shots. These are great for getting all the little ones running around associated with the correct parents etc. I am making flash cards next year with people's faces and names on them! One year, we had a contest to see who could identify the most people in the reunion group photo from the year before! I didn't win...
  2. Videotape family members telling stories. The camera phone is perfect for this. Many people become self-conscious when you start video taping them. But you can record people with your phone without them noticing. (It isn't creepy stalkerish at all. I don't care what my daughters say!)
  3. Bring note paper to take notes. Being the genealogy geek that I am, I also bring family group and ancestor charts to fill out.
  4. Bring a reunion scrapbook. People love looking at photos of past reunions. It is particularly touching to see the photos of the family members who have died. I also have a scrapbook of the military history of my family. I get yelled at if I forget to bring it.
  5. Be prepared to share what you know about the family. Share photos. Share the history. A couple of years ago, I printed up a small booklet that told about the Young family history. I kept it short and hopefully funny. I still hear from cousins about it. Sometimes, corrections, but mostly its, "I didn't know that!"
  6. HAVE FUN! That way, you and everyone else will want to come back!
Do you have any family reunion stories you would like to share?

No comments: