by Mary Steinke
Two memories from childhood stand out in my mind from our annual
reunions on the family farm.
First, I remember being locked in an outhouse in the middle
of August in 95-degree weather. My second cousin and I had thrown
rotten tomatoes at the boys. They retaliated by picking us up,
pushing us into the outhouse, blocking the door, and leaving us
Second, I remember my Great Aunt Eleanor's mouthwatering, made-from-scratch
pies. She was so proud of those pies that she died without giving
anyone the recipes.
Obviously, the second memory of the incredible taste of the
pies continues to be my favorite reunion memory.
However, the memory of needing to leave the reunion early because
I was unfit to sniff lingers still--so to speak.
Overall, family reunions can be a wonderful experience--even
when the unexpected happens. The tale of the "Outhouse Outlaws"
became legendary in the family.
One summer, God blessed our immediate family with three family
reunions. Three different sides of our extended families felt
the need to gather together for fun instead of just gathering
at family funerals. We wanted to celebrate the awesome gift of
family, to laugh together, to share our lives, to relive memories,
and to create new ones.
In all three cases, we made our different family reunions as
user friendly as possible for everyone. The simpler the better
became our battle cry.
If it's been too long since your extended family gathered to
enjoy each other's company, you still have time to create an impromptu
celebration this summer or begin planning for next year.
The following are 25 tips we found invaluable in planning our
1. When choosing a date, avoid summer holiday weekends since
parks are harder to reserve, crowds are larger, and traffic tends
2. Make sure the date does not conflict with an area festival.
Otherwise, motel rooms will be hard to find for out-of-towners.
3. Consider including the date of the reunion in your Christmas
card. Families often begin planning their summer activities in
4. If the reunion is in the summer, reserve a park shelter
early in the spring.
5. Explore the possibility of choosing a date during another
season of the year. My sister-in-law's family holds their gathering
on Columbus Day weekend.
6. If relatives are scattered throughout the country, consider
picking a great vacation destination like a national park, exciting
city, or amusement park. Use the Internet to locate motels and
places to visit.
7. Wherever you decide to hold the reunion, plan for the physical
needs of relatives using walkers or wheelchairs.
8. E-mail continues to be a great way to communicate information
for those relatives who are on-line.
9. Encourage relatives with desktop publishing skills to
create a reunion newsletter just prior to the reunion and a recap
edition after the reunion.
10. Invite a relative to create a family tree with a computer
program and then share it in the newsletter or at the reunion.
11. Rotate reunion coordinators every year or hold the reunion
every 2-4 years.
12. Keep the menu simple. Allow the best cooks to bring their
best creations. Allow the non-cooks to bring the drinks.
13. Nametags are a must for a group larger than 25.
14. Specially made reunion T-shirts are great, but permit
them to be optional. Remember your Great-Aunt Sarah never wore
trousers in her life, let alone a T-shirt.
15. Take a few group photos and include them in the reunion
newsletter recap edition.
16. Candid snapshots taken by the preteens or teens with
either disposable, instant, or digital cameras give them a chance
to become involved without cramping their style.
17. Try an old-fashioned game of kickball. Even preschoolers
can kick a ball and run the bases with the help of an adult.
18. Blowing bubbles, watermelon seed spitting contests, and
water balloon tosses prove to be easy, improvised games for all
19. Bring old photos for those who prefer to sit and watch
20. Do plan for the possibility of rain. Playing board games
under the park shelter may not be ideal, but can prove to be fun
with the right attitude.
21. Put out a donation basket for the rental of the shelter,
postage for the newsletter and development of the pictures.
22. Everyone has a relative who may rub you the wrong way.
Just smile and be polite.
23. Choose another time to talk through family issues. Reunions
should be enjoyable and fun--not a time to pick at old wounds.
24. Plan a family worship service thanking God for all the
blessings bestowed on the family.
25. If a family member has died since the last reunion or
a new baby has been born, thank God for the gift of their life
during the blessing of the food or at the worship service.
The ebook by Marilyn Moll, FAST
AND HEALTHY RECIPES FOR BUSY WOMEN -Reliable Recipes for Busy
Families, includes my best and most requested bread recipes.
My earnest desire is that you will find the my tips, information,
and recipes to be a reliable resource of healthy, family-favorite
recipes, as well as streamlined preparation methods which fit
in with busy lifestyles.
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Copyright Hearts at Home 2005, used with permission. For more
information about Hearts at Home: 309-888-MOMS or www.hearts-at-home.org