Family reunions can be tricky. While you’re lining up folks for the three-legged sack race, Uncle Tipsy may be stumbling headlong into Great Aunt Myrtle’s famous potato salad. Or Precocious Little Alfie may be surreptitiously nailing Nervous Nellie’s petticoats to the porch.
Disasters come with the territory, say reunion planners. Long simmering family feuds can boil over at an otherwise festive affair. Generally obnoxious behavior, often fueled by copious amounts of alcohol, can rapidly turn a reunion’s mood sour.
And those deep, dark family secrets? If you can’t keep them in check, at least deal with them discreetly.
Ingrid Sturgis at The Root offers some tips on how you might head off some of the behavior that can bring down your otherwise carefully planned family get-together.
Among the more intriguing suggestions are several that bring structure to your family unit. For instance, some families actually draw up a family constitution or by-laws then require family members to take a pledge to honor them. A code of conduct can be established and a council of elders can be set up to deal with disputes and family administrative matters. Some family reunions begin with a “letting go” ceremony where past grudges and transgressions are forgiven before the party begins.
Temple University hosts the Family Reunion Institute, though its future is in doubt. Founder Dr. Ione D. Vargas has retired and is approaching her 80th birthday. She has canceled plans for a 2010 Family Reunion Conference, but, for now, the web site remains. It even offers some products that might be helpful if you’re planning a reunion yourself.
Writing prompt of the day: What are the best and worst experiences you’ve had at a family reunion?
Photo: Jason Lehmer introduces his daughter, Aubrey, to her great-grandmother, Elsie Lehmer, at July 2008 family reunion.