Updated: Jul 8
The family reunion has become a tradition of summer. They’ve evolved beyond picnics, to include week-end celebrations, and week-long cruises. These days reunions may bring biological kin to the table, or the reunion may be a non-traditional gathering of unrelated “cousins” sharing the bond of community and common interests.
For those planning a reunion compare it to training for a sports event. You need a game plan, patience and stamina, positive energy and an energetic team willing to carry the baton when called upon. And you’ll need identifying family garb—the t-shirt. As the primary organizer aka team captain, you draft the overall game plan which should include elements of the following tasks and assignments delegating some aspect of the tasks to the reunion team. You may not need each of these, but most likely you’ll want to create committees or sub-teams to tackle this list.
• Site Selection • Budget or Finance • Fundraising • Correspondence and communication • T-shirts • Programming & activities • Family history • Food or Catering • Setup and Breakdown
In training for any event, you need to be in shape—exercise regularly. Thirty minutes of daily exercise stimulates chemicals in the brain that can leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. Regular exercise can minimize stress, boost energy, improve stamina and sleep, and help maintain a healthy weight. You don’t want snacks served at reunion planning meetings turning into chips on the hips!
Planning meetings need snacks, and this is a good time to test snack choices for the actual reunion. In just about every family or group, there are folks with health concerns that may need special consideration when it comes to planning meals. Try to avoid high-salt and high-sugar options. For snacks choose traditional potato or tortilla chips and baked chips too. Include fresh fruit—apples, oranges, and bananas, they are high in vitamins, and fiber which will fill you up without a lot of calories.
When the reunion includes tours or extended activities create a snack pack for everyone. Include single-serve boxed raisins, a handful of nuts (1-2- ozs.), or peanut butter-filled crackers plus 8 to 10(ozs.) of bottled water to help people stay energized and hydrated
As you plan menus, this is a good time to look at family health issues, choosing dishes that include healthful ingredients. Most often during reunions the emphasis is placed on ancestor searches, old wise tales and family heritage, but it is very important to include family medical history in these anecdotal conversations. Family members need to know when diseases run in the family, and of those affecting the relatives if they are lifestyle related or genetic. Family medical history is an important aspect of the family legacy, and the knowledge can be lifesaving. Once you pull the team together and outline the “To Do” list with a couple of tasks that may require voluntold action, you’re almost home safe. Collect family sizes to order the t-shirts and the reunion team is ready to hit the road.
The take-away: Family reunions create opportunities to reconnect and fellowship with immediate and extended family members—put the time to good use learning about any recurring ailments, and medical history along with the traditional family lore.
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