From Dr. Jane's Notebook

The fine art of family reunions

Family reunions and family gatherings can be wonderfully renewing or emotionally disastrous. One way or the other, they are always a lot of work, so it is a good idea to give these events some serious forethought and planning. If your family is like mine, people have to travel from long distances to be together. This requires special effort and special challenges, and it is likely that both frustrations and expectations will run high. To maximize the chance that your next family reunion will be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, please consider the following thoughts.

            People search for better ways to communicate with their relatives. Sometimes, it helps to set goals for yourself and come up with creative projects for kids. During Thanksgiving, one of my nephews compiled a book which consisted of several sheets of paper, folded in half and stapled. On each page, he drew a picture of each family member present and wrote something about them.  My other nephew drew a composite picture of all of our pets and their names.

            As for teens and young adults, family reunions can serve as important hunting grounds in which to explore your “family of origin”. To know yourself, you must understand your own background. Most family elders appreciate being “interviewed” as it gives them a chance to reflect and pass along family memories and traditions.  Once a relative has agreed to be interviewed, any of the following questions can be used to “get the ball rolling”:

Where is our family from originally?

What are your first memories of radio and television?

How did you learn to drive?

How did you decide on your career?

Where did your meet your spouse?

What kind of things did you like to do as a kid?

How did you choose the name(s) of your child(ren)?

What was it like when your children were young?

            Grandparents generally love to be interviewed and their answers may lead to many previously untold bits of family history and folklore. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to know a few of your elders from a whole new perspective…and come away from your family reunion with a stronger sense of your own identity.

©Copyright, 2004, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

Return to Family Relations

Return to Table of Contents