Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mission Impossible? Tips for Planning Your Family Reunion

By MaryBeth Seal

I am so jazzed because our family reunion is in 6 weeks and I’m in charge. Call me crazy, call me scary, but I love family reunions and making plans for food, folks and fun!

I like to think of putting the fun back in “dysfunctional!” My relatives aren’t perfect and neither are yours, but love covers a multitude of sins. You’ve heard the saying, “You can pick your friends, but you’re stuck with your relatives.” It’s all a matter of perspective.

Our reunion in Michigan actually begins on a Friday night, continues all day Saturday and concludes on Sunday morning. We enjoy our visits that much. Family members are coming from Colorado, Florida, Arizona, Illinois, Maryland, and Wisconsin. We’ve had this event ever since I was a young girl, and the experience becomes more dear to me personally as the years go by. This year, all of my siblings will be in the same place at the same time- 6 of us all together- and all of our children, along with our mother.

With about 50 people attending, this is not an easy or annual happening for a large family, so needless to say it will be valuable to each of us.

How can having a family reunion be a mission? As ambassadors for Christ, we can show the love of God in practical ways such as serving, offering hospitality, and building relationships. It may also provide a great opportunity to share your faith with family members.

Here are Some Ideas for a Fun and Memorable Family Reunion:

* Delegate jobs to relatives. Make sign up sheets for set up crews, clean up crews, cooks, beverages servers and corn shuckers

* Plan fun activities. Designate a “Director of Fun.” I personally love this position, because I can be crazy and creative and get family members of all ages playing zany games together.

* Speaking of games, here is an idea for all ages: Water-balloon toss- partners stand back to back a few feet apart then one throws the water balloon backwards over his head and his partner has to catch it in a pillow case. Seventy and seven year olds can partner up!

* How about a hole in one? One golf club, one ball and one hole. Form 2 teams and each team has a player putt 2 times and try to sink the ball in the same hole at the same distance. Again, seventy and seven year olds can play this.

* You can create relay races of all kinds, bean bag toss, and more.
(The Internet is a great resource for activity ideas.)

* Have some table games available.

* Karaoke is always fun to do and watch.

* Have prizes and gifts just for fun. Give a gift to the oldest member of the family to honor them. Recognize the newest member by marriage or by birth with a gift as well.

* Pass out whoopi cushions or goofy plastic teeth. Remember, to have fun you must make fun, it doesn’t happen by itself!

* Plan a food menu. This is always a challenge for large groups. If you need help, ask someone for ideas, look at magazines and allow plenty of time for planning and preparation. Food in our family is always a biggggggg deal. We always look forward to Pat’s hot potato salad, and Vite’s sweet corn!

* Purchase supplies ahead of time. Look for sales and don’t wait until the last minute. You need to be ready and relaxed to enjoy the family; not stressed out to the max.

* Let others help. Even children want jobs and to be involved, so delegate, delegate and delegate some more.

* Make traditions. We wear special t-shirts with our family logo on them and patches on our hats or shirts. Because of our heritage, we have an Irish theme with lots of green, and we display a large poster of my grandmother Emma O’Brien who is the matriarch of our family to help us remember our roots.

Things to Avoid at a Family Reunion:

•Don’t Bible thump your relatives; it’s really not the place or time. In fact, don’t ever Bible thump your relatives, it just is not an effective evangelizing tool. Better to be a living epistle that people can read.

•Avoid being critical and self righteous when Uncle ______ uses his rough language or has a few brews. Look beyond what you perceive as sin and love the sinner. “If you judge people; you have no time to love them.”(Mother Teresa)

•Stay away from gossip. Reunions are a time for building up and loving your family.

•Be an active participant, not a spectator. Get in the games and be a part of the family. I agree with Tommy Lasorda who said “I believe in laughter. I think it’s food for the soul.”

•Don’t hold a grudges against family members. Instead, forgive as Jesus has forgiven you. Remember that “kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.” (Samuel Johnson.)

Well, I have more planning to do. We’re having a “Tiki Party” on the Friday night before our reunion. We’re going to get our “kahunas” on and have a good time! This summer, lighten up with your family and enjoy them while you can.

MaryBeth Seal is a nurse and a She Speaks graduate. She has written many articles for publication including: The Michiana Christian News in South Bend, The Active Christian News in Phoenix, and Mission Eyes Network, an online missions hub for eye health care missionaries.

Valley Girl….the Valley of Trouble Leads to a Door of Hope is her first published book and it can be purchased on line at any bookstore and Amazon.com. It’s the true story of how a violent crime investigation led her to brokenness and dependency on God as she discovered the kindness of the Lord in the midst of tragedy.

Speaking to women’s groups and Bible studies has been part of her ministry as well. “A Life to Overcome” is one her favorite presentations.

MaryBeth can be contacted at 269-683-4613 or mbseal2000@yahoo.com if you would like to schedule an event with her.