“Sharing history helps provide roots for a sense of belonging,” said Karen Dickrell, family living educator for Outagamie County University of Wisconsin-Extension. “Family history can be promoted by telling family stories. Having time to sit down and share, go through pictures and talk about family history and where ancestors came from is valuable and helps keep family traditions alive.”
Family reunions generate documentation about family members, such as photos with names (surprisingly rare in vintage photos), which contribute to the body of knowledge about the life and times and people of a certain time and place, said Sharon Clothier, curator of the History Museum at the Castle in Appleton, Wisconsin.
“Reunions provide an opportunity for generations to share stories, an opportunity for elders to pass down their experiences and memories to younger family members. Genealogical information is often shared, written down and sometimes preserved by younger family members,” Clothier said.
Sharing stories and humor also helps people better deal with life’s stresses, Dickrell added. “Getting together with family is a coping tool for some. It dispels anger and aggression, relieves tension, and we learn from laughing with each other, not at each other. It’s strength-building with grandchildren and other relatives.”
From a story by Cheryl Sherry in the Appleton Post Crescent, Appleton, Wisconsin.