Family Reunion Planning

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Planning a family reunion is the perfect way to fix fractured relationships.

UNITED STATES—When I was a kid my dad’s family made it a tradition for us to have a family reunion every 2 years. When I reached my teen years, the reunions just stopped. Fast-forward to 2015, and the notion of the family reunion is exploding in full-force. For the first time ever, I attended a family reunion on my mother’s side of the family that had me traveling to the steamy and hot state of North Carolina.

To be honest I had a ball. I met cousins, and family that I never knew even existed. I met relatives who live in New York, Florida, Ohio, Chicago, Las Vegas and even Washington. It was slightly intimidating at first to interact with complete strangers, but through the use of a few games and just common interests people bonded and it was thoroughly fun.

We now have plans to have our next reunion in 2017, and we’ll host in my home state of Michigan. It makes me quite happy to say the least because Michigan has tons to offer even though so many people have no idea of the little gems that are secretly hidden throughout the state. In the midst of getting ready to plan a reunion for my mother’s side of the family, now relatives that I have lost contact with on my dad’s side of the family want to plan a reunion. To make matters worse, the reunion is said to take place in 2016. Yep, that’s less than 10 months for the target date that we have planned.

Honestly, there are loads of first cousins, second cousins, aunts and uncles on my dad’s side. During our first impromptu meeting, we counted around 70 people just for the main family. We had discussions of the possibility of having the reunion branch off into other sides of the family, but thought we might be opening a can of worms and thought it would be best to try to just include the main family.

While not everyone in the family showed, it became apparent which players would be vital to ensuring this reunion shapes up to be a festive one! For starters, we appointed people to certain roles, of course; once again I fall into the seat of treasurer. I have no idea why everyone thinks I’m so good with money; it’s not like it’s something I announce to the world. I actually don’t have loads of money in the bank; I just manage what I have well. I spend what I can afford to spend, and save the rest for a rainy day because I learned from college you never know when that day will come.

Our discussion was a good one. We brainstormed a ton of ideas, people gave suggestions and there was absolutely no bickering which is a great thing. Why am I arguing this, well for a family where we’ve lost a bit of contact, no one could’ve expected precisely what may have transpired when we came face-to-face again. Our biggest discussion revolved around the idea of precisely how much money would be needed to pull-off a three-day reunion including food, hotel accommodations and activities for everyone. Quite difficult to plan a budget, without first having some estimates on cost (reserving the banquet room for the meet and greet is likely to be the biggest cost we’ll endure).

In addition to that factoid, food will be the next biggest thing, as we’ll have to factor in what we plan to cook and how many people we will be cooking for. We did have a bit of a battle when it came to deciding what color T-shirts would be utilized for the reunion. Let’s just say that decision is still up for debate. I think the biggest thing I’m most proud of is connecting with blood relatives that I seriously haven’t talked to in years. I mean we used to hang out all the time as kids, but as adults we just ventured away. It’s true, the older you get the more you drift apart; people have careers, families are started and things just complicate the situation.

Perhaps what drew us together was knowing that our grandparents bless their soul, don’t have much time left. My grandfather is in his early 90s and being a World War II veteran signifies how importance it is for him to see all his grandchildren and great grandchildren in the same vicinity one last time. My grandmother has been recently ill, while things are getting slightly better, the fear is that her dementia will kick in soon and those faces she used to remembered will be soon forgotten.

No matter what transpires, it looks like I’ll have a busy 2016 and 2017 when it comes to family reunions. It’s a good thing. I get the opportunity to reconnect with family that I haven’t seen in years and what’s more important than family.