Much of the
copy throughout this web site is for or from family reunions.
These are some stories that did not fit other places on this web
site. Each has its own bit of inspiration but many more of these
stories are contained within the context of some other topic title.
Seventy-three members of the White Family Reunion
met in Louisiana, where their theme song was We dont care
how you got here, were so glad you came.
The excitement started when family members arrived
at the hospitality room to sign in and receive t-shirts, tote
bags and nametags. Surprises included members from Texas who received
no newsletters but found out about the reunion a couple of days
before and came anyway. A connection was made with a stranger
on the plane who, after conversation, was found to be kinfolk;
she changed her plans, checked out of her hotel and registered
for the reunion.
Friday there was a Youth Luau around the swimming
pool outside the hospitality room. Young people received leis
and had games and refreshments. Mostly they wanted to swim.
Everyone signed a colored flag assigned to his/her
ancestors name. Flags were placed on a large Family Chart.
Autograph bingo was a great way for members to get
to know each other: a game sheet was divided into squares, with
each square containing a description of a family member; the point
of the game was to ask individuals to autograph the square that
A Saturday morning tour was planned. Many members
hadnt pre-registered, and the chartered bus wasnt
large enough to accommodate everyone who wanted to go, so several
cars formed a caravan behind the bus. The itinerary was to see
historic sites in and around Shreveport, but plans gave way to
a prolonged cemetery visit at Good Hope. In spite of very hot
weather, it was difficult to move the group away from the old
school and ancestors gravesites. The same was true at the
former home of the late State Grant White.
A banquet was the familys dress-up affair and
showcase for its gifts and talents. Family members received souvenir
booklets and other keepsakes. Each child age 12 and under received
his/her own personal copy of A Souvenir Booklet for Kids.
Arrangements had been made with church officials to
incorporate the White Family Reunion into a Sunday morning worship
service. A brief candlelight service was included to honor the
Reported by Gertie V. White, Compton CA
Melody emailed these poignant questions:
Is there anything in print that gives SOME guidelines
for proper family reunion etiquette with regard to who can attend
a family reunion and who cannot? In this day and age, how does
one deal with significant others? There are folks
living together without being married. Some folks want in-laws
who are not blood to attend. We understand that step-kids and
adopted kids are included thats not the problem.
Exactly what is the purpose of a FAMILY reunion? The kids just
dont understand what a family reunion is about. They think
its for entertainment: golfing, horseshoes, pool tournaments,
childrens games, with groups off doing their own thing all
over the place. By the time everyone leaves, we dont know
much more about each other than when we arrived!
I am asking because our family doesnt seem to
know these things - especially those in their 30s. They have varying
ideas about what is acceptable and what is not. The older and
middle generations maintain Christian values, while the younger
generation appear not to be so principled.
What is traditional reunion etiquette regarding my questions?
Is there an established resource to which we can refer?
Who is family? is one of the most important
questions family reunions must answer. Ironically, the real answer
is that there are no real answers. Every family is different.
There are many, many ways to answer your questions.
There is no one guideline unless a family chooses
to set rules to exclude rather than include members. We are at
a time in history when family is where you find it or where it
finds you. It can be everyone descended from one ancestor or everyone
who knows and cares about a descendant. It can be a group of siblings
(which could be the current generation or earlier) and all their
descendants. Renowned family therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who
lost her entire family in the Holocaust, talks about her family
that was made up of friends until she married and began to establish
a new family. Children of divorce, for example, are still cousins,
nieces/nephews and grandchildren of both families. Some families
stay close to ex-in-laws_some even like their exs family
better than their own blood relatives! Some families include persons
too distant to really have a fix on the relationship, or even
have so much fun at reunions that they want to include friends.
One of my cardinal rules about family is that you
exclude no one who is related. Some families have relatives who
are not favorites, not good role models or tend to embarrass others.
Let those people make their own decisions about attending; they
will likely not come anyway, or perhaps theyve changed.
As a young person I adored an uncle, a bon vivant who embarrassed
his own generation. While they did not welcome him, I loved to
Most families deal with how they relate
to one another from the nuclear to the extended family. If the
nuclear family accepts significant others or people living together
without benefit of marriage, why shouldnt the extended family
accept it? On the other hand, if some members are offended, a
very specific decision may have to be made to exclude. But dont
expect the relative in that relationship to be eager to join the
reunion. My personal preference is to be as all-inclusive as you
possibly can for several reasons. The principals will be happier
and the family may well be enriched by these new members.
As for the activities golfing, horseshoes,
pool tournaments, childrens games, with groups off doing
their own thing
you might give your members a
bit of slack. These are precisely the activities that draw younger
members. If young people come to your reunion which other organizers
would give heaven and earth to even have happen and have a good
time, consider yourself a success. Theyll come back if they
have a good time and that means your reunion is a success, too.
by Ann More
Family reunions were pretty boring when I was a kid. There was
a potluck or picnic, depending on the weather. There was nothing
special planned for children. After the meal, the "old folks"
sometimes gave little speeches about some ancestor I'd never heard
of and couldn't have cared less about. It was a relief to go home!
The one bright spot for me was Mary Delight. She
was a spry, angular old woman from Indiana, and her food contribution
every year was an enormous bowl the largest I'd ever seen
of fat, perfect blueberries from her farm.
Her name intrigued me, as did her warm smile and
charming manner. I was too shy to approach her on my own, but
I hung around the blueberry bowl a lot.
One year she invited my family to come pick blueberries.
It was great fun to dart among the endless rows with my brother
and search the shrubs for the luscious, frosty-looking berries,
stuffing ourselves in the process.
Mary Delight died that year. So did the family
reunions. She was the organizer for many years and no one took
her place. But I remember Mary Delight. I regret my shyness and
wish I had gotten to know more about her.
Now that I am middle-aged I often think of planning
reunions. Perhaps there is a "Mary Delight" in your
family. Isn't there some way to get children actively involved
in getting to know her? Plan a story hour for children at your
next reunion. Every family has interesting characters and stories
hidden here and there. Heroes and rogues, drama and danger, humor,
triumph and faith. I'll bet you'll find a storyteller too - someone
with a ready smile and twinkling eyes who loves children and stories.
Maybe he (or she) will pass around an enormous
bowl of blueberries or popcorn and tell what life
was like on the farm where he grew up, and how his big brother
caught him smoking behind the barn and "cured" him by
dumping him head-first in the manure pile!
If your storyteller is good, get him on video,
along with faces of listening children. A family treasure for
years long after the story-teller is gone!
The Best Reunions
by Agnes Konitzer Bridger
Our family is large; our youngest daughter is the 96th grandchild
with over 225 great grandchildren. After our mother passed away,
the fourteen surviving brothers and sisters decided to get together
once a year. In special remembrance of our parents, we gathered
for Sunday Mass and sat in the front pews. After mass and dinner
at a restaurant, we spent the afternoon at someone's home to reminisce.
Everyone hated to see the day end.
After a few years, the nieces and nephews decided
to continue the tradition by taking turns planning the annual
event and invited the aunts and uncles as guests.
The best reunion was at our grandparents' farm
bought in 1889, now owned by a nephew. Three wagons with bundles
of hay for seats were pulled by tractors instead of horses. We
went through the neighbor's field to the river where we swam so
That day brought back many cherished memories
for those of us who lived on this farm and swam in the river or
went down the hill on homemade toboggans.
The tradition is still going strong. What better
way to keep our family intact and close?
Nancy Newman tells this story about her husband's family reunion.
Years ago, they had reunions until 1969 when Hurricane Camille
destroyed the aunt's house where reunions were held. Reunions
stopped. In 1996, when they learned a cousin was deathly ill and
would live just a matter of days, her husband said, "we must
have a family reunion." They got to work and in about three
weeks everything was set. The cousin died the day of the reunion.
However, it was agreed that the reunions should continue every
year. Everyone brings food and drinks. The ladies visit; the men
play cards. The real purpose is to get to know each other again.
Newman printed a family tree that spread about 20 feet. Everyone
enjoyed looking at it. The only complaints were from some divorced
folks who didn't want the spouse shown in the family tree. "Our
oldest member is 92 years old. Don't be discouraged, families
Most reunion organizers will envy this
We received a lovely note from Al and Essie Morris, Donna, Texas,
saluting the great effort of Frank Willis, organizer of the Willis
Family Reunion. It is so nice to hear from members of a family
who clearly understand that the reunion is an important event
that takes much planning and organization to get it right. Mr.
Willis is enthusiastic, committed to his reunion and obviously
a treasure to his family. Relatives so rarely publicly recognize
the specialness of reunion organizers. Thank you, Mr. & Mrs.
West coast branch
The three generation Smith-Sloan West Coast Family Reunion at
Point Richmond, California, was formed members who were not always
able to travel to the 70 year annual reunion of the entire family
in Dallas County, Arkansas.
Another sisters reunion blossoms
Over a decade ago, six sisters from Cresco, Iowa, started annual
reunions; sometimes in Minnesota and sometimes at a family cabin
on the Oregon coast. One of the sisters, Jacinta (Jazz) Gates
thinks there's a need for sisters to draw closer, dispel myths
about each other and "discover who we really are." Heal
old misunderstandings and rivalries. Fix family fractures. Set
an example of family closeness for other relatives. These are
times to laugh, cry, reminisce, eat, give each other back rubs,
compare aging bodies, ruminate about kids and share dreams.
Jazz Gates along with a group of sister-loving
women in Portland, Oregon, has created a non-profit organization
which provides services for women that support and enrich family
and community relationship. Contact Sisters International, Inc,
PO Box 2188, Portland OR 97208-2188; 503-645-8326; firstname.lastname@example.org.
summarized from an article by Jann Mitchell
in the Portland Oregonian
More sisters convene
Amy Cordell, Oak Park, Illinois, and her five far-flung siblings
have reunited one weekend every year for a decade. There is a
12-year age range so this is their opportunity to know one another
Their main purpose was to talk. The plan was just
sisters, but only brother, John, wouldn't hear of it and pouted
until he was included. They skipped the year a sister died of
ovarian cancer. Now talking about and remembering her is important.
Sans spouses or children, they meet at a hotel,
a mother-in-law's beach house or a sibling's house. If it's at
someone's house, the family (spouse and kids and all) retreat
to a nearby hotel. Expenses are shared to equalize the costs to
those who travel cross-country versus the costs to those who travel
Food is not fancy. The first year they bought
lots of food, then found they were too lazy to cook. "Now,"
Amy says, "we chip and dip our way through the weekends."
The Cordell kids have made t-shirts and maintain
an unspoken ritual to pass out copies of a favorite book or product;
samples of a new hair mousse, a book of ecology tips, things the
others will enjoy. One year, brother John found an old manuscript
by their mother called "Dear Peabody;" letters from
the family dog to the two older sisters who'd grown and left home.
John retyped, copied and bound a hardcover book for each of his
from an upcoming book about family rituals
by Meg Cox
And the winners are ...
One of the special features of Wisconsin's Sesquicentennial
celebrations was a reunion contest. Hundreds of reunions received
commemorative certificates. Six winners, chosen for number of
attendees, length of time the group has been meeting and activities
they planned, received engraved Sesquicentennial medallions. Director,
Dean Amhaus says he learned wonderful stories of important celebrations
that share great memories and contributions to Wisconsin's heritage.
Family reunion winners were the Pronschinske Heritage
Reunion of 1,200 members at their ancestral farm in Montana, Wisconsin;
the 65th annual Friedrich Seidemann Descendants of America Reunion
of 600 at Ray Seideman's farm in Newburg, Wisconsin; the Voie,
Voje, Wole Family Reunion in Scandinavia, Wisconsin, where members
toured seven ancestral homesteads; and the 74th reunion of the
Treleven Clan in Grafton, Wisconsin, which included two members
who attended the first reunion in 1928. Two class reunions were
also winners; The Milwaukee County Hospital School of Nursing
Class of 1948 and an all-school reunion in Eagle River, Wisconsin.