Wednesday, June 3, 2009


If you are considering organizing a family reunion expedition, there are lots of resources on the Internet to help you , and this post will review some of the most basic considerations for such a project. First of all, one must consider the location of the reunion. If family members are scattered all across the country, as is most often the case these days, then you will want to pick a location that has multiple transportation options. The photos in the collage illustrate what might be called "PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES". A city that has an airport with commercial flights scheduled is a big plus; furthermore, the availability of public transportation at the airport is very helpful for getting people delivered to the reunion location; if the chosen city can also have Amtrak train service, that is another plus. If the city is easily accessible through major interstate highways, that, too, is a plus. And for people who will only attend if they can "float their boat", being on a major waterway adds yet another source of transportation. All these features were found in the city chosen for the Keeling Family Reunion---Sacramento, California. (It is also noteworthy that Sacramento even has extensive bicycle trails and hiking trails for people who want to use that mode of transportation!) Once the location of a family reunion is chosen, another consideration is the date on the calendar for the event. All those transportation options are somewhat useless, if winter weather makes travel hazardous. Another consideration for the date of the reunion is if most of the participants have school-age children (which would necessitate choosing a date after the school session has ended), or perhaps the date could be chosen around a 3-day holiday weekend, or a special event going on in the city of choice. That was another reason Sacramento was a good choice because the Jazz Festival coincided with the weekend of the reunion.

One purpose of a family reunion is for family fellowship, and this is seldom ever achieved without "breaking bread" together. The photos in the collage show some of the ways this can be accomplished: (left to right) A hotel's public breakfast space, where attendees can sip coffee and visit at their leisure as they adjust to varying time zones; a cook-out in the home of one of the "local" relatives who has space to accommodate everyone; enjoying beverages together along the waterfront; outdoor dining at a restaurant; indoor dining at a restaurant; and finally, a picnic on the ground, where the kids can spread out and not have to worry about "table manners".
Family Reunion guidebooks list dozens of activities that can be attempted during your event, but you will need to evaluate such suggestions for the age, stamina, weather, and interests of those attending. In the "activities collage" I put together, there are examples (left to right) of a shared religious service, card games, strolling the board walk, getting to know the newest family members, hiking along the river walk, making a piece of "artwork" at a crafts table, looking at old family photo albums, going through family heirloom pieces, and trying to get the perfect group photo. The group photo aspect is especially of interest to me, but it proved to be illusive for the Keeling family reunion as there was never an opportunity when every single attendee was present together at one time---hence the collages! However, if you do have an opportunity for a group photo, an interesting way to do it is to have everyone bring a piece of clothing in the same color (i.e. white shirt and jeans, or black or all denim or other common garment color) to given a sense of unity to a photo. Likewise, I have seen family reunion photos where ---for example---all the descendants of Uncle Joe wore red, Uncle Paul's descendants wore blue, and Uncle Lester's descendants wore white. Another aspect often seen for family reunion gatherings is EVERYONE is in the same-color T-shirt and it has been imprinted with the name of the family, and the date of the reunion. That is a very nice option, and I say "hats off" to anybody that can accomplish such a feat!
The most important thing about a family reunion, however, is not the group photo, or what people were wearing, or eating, or doing. It is a time to give thanks for our shared family heritage, and the bonds that bind us together . The top photo of this collage reminds me of the verse in scripture that says "how sweet it is when brothers (and cousins!) live together in unity". In closing this post on keeping alive one's family legacy, we need to remember that it is best done by DOING what Ephesians 4:3 says: "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." Miles of smiles! TriciaPosted by Picasa p.s. Sadly, one of the family faces missing in the photos above is that of Miles Affleck. He fought a courageous battle against cancer for the last several years, and unfortunately, had to be admitted to Hospice care during the time of the family reunion. He died June 1, and will be missed by all those who knew and loved him. His memory will be kept alive by his descendants, including grandson Carter Miles Forde, shown above in the white swaddling clothes during Carter's baptismal ceremony.