Magazine article Work & Family Life

Building Bridges across Generations

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Building Bridges across Generations

Article excerpt

It's not easy staying in touch with our own generation and harder still to maintain connections with the aunts, uncles and grandparents who were important to us when we were growing up. A strong adhesive for a far-flung family is to get together on a regular basis.

Reunions vary in frequency and flavor

Family reunions can be a meal on a weekend afternoon, a fully planned weekend, or a week-long summer vacation. Many are sibling-initiated. "We take turns," says Kristen. "The hostess provides the place and we all chip in on the food. We've had reunions in Maine, Cape Cod, Seattle and Florida."

Some reunions are planned around milestone birthdays, graduations, weddings and anniversaries. "For my in-laws' 50th anniversary, the kids planned a weekend," says Francine. "One night we had square dancing, the next a party. There were speeches and storytelling. All 70 of us were there."

At reunions the tendency is to spend time with the people you know, but the point is to visit with relatives you haven't seen for years. To reduce confusion and ease people into conversations at a large gathering, it helps to wear name tags: "Jana Jones, daughter of Pamela Jones."

Planning a family reunion

Some families elect reunion coordinators or officers to organize the next reunion, keep tabs on family members, send out news and maintain a database with home and e-mail addresses and phone numbers. Many families have their own web pages on which reunion plans are posted.

Just don't expect one person to do all of the work. Form committees for site selection, food, entertainment, communications and accommodations.

Activities will enrich your experience

Here are some tried-and-true ideas for reunion activities.

* Meet as a group at least once during your time together. Options for a group meeting include telling stories, singing old favorites, putting on a skit or even planning your next reunion. You might ask each guest or one person from each family unit to share something that happened since the last reunion. You might also tote mementoes for an after-dinner "show and tell" or stage a "talent show." Some families repeat (and record) ghost stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. …

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