If it’s summer, it must be family reunion time.
I spent part of the day last Friday at just such a gathering, and it wasn’t even part of my family. I was invited to facilitate a group discussion among senior members of a group that was first formed 50 years ago by six cousins.
Over the years the group has grown large enough that it’s now divided into three clans. In 1977, they started having reunions and Friday’s gathering marked the 11th of the triennial affairs.
The family has taken on the task of documenting its history through a book and DVD. We assembled a stellar group representing all three clans to record the history and stories of the Swedish immigrants who met in Chicago and started it all well over a century ago.
At the outset, I told the group that, despite their lifelong ties, they were likely to learn something new during the 90-minute session. After tales ranging from how to make egg coffee to the sad deaths of several all-too-young family members to a fond remembrance of an uncle who loved ragtime piano so much that he even played hymns in the style, all agreed that they learned new things about their family.
Keep that in mind if you have any family gatherings coming up. Weddings, reunions, picnics, etc. are all great places to collect family stories.
If you and your relatives are really serious about your reunions, you might consider forming a family association. Most family associations have a web site, newsletter or blog and make it easy for people to keep in touch. For examples, check out the Graves Family Association of Massachusetts or the Jared Pratt Family Association which is meeting in Salt Lake City later this month.