Playing by the Rules by Ellen Javernick

Last summer we attended two family reunions. The first at Sylvan Lake Lodge in South Dakota over Fourth of July weekend. Younger family members hiked mountain trails, hissed at a melodrama and howled at a video made from photos of their parents as kids. It was a great time! I feared the second reunion would be a different story.

The second reunion was a four-hour, one hundred fifty person affair at the VFW hall in Canon City, Colorado. It was planned like a “senior chew and chat.” Emphasis was on praising Great Aunt Florence’s poticia and hearing about who was suffering from what illness … hardly an exciting day for school-age members. The hall was on Main Street so for safety sake the kids could not leave the building. As an in-law I hesitated to offer advice but I wanted my children to have happy memories of time spent with their father’s extended family. I offered to plan activities for the kids which was not greeted with much enthusiasm. I was given the go-ahead as long as the activities I planned “didn’t cost money” and “didn’t make a mess.” Now that was a tall order!