Reunions are defined as: a meeting or social gathering of persons acquainted with each other through some former event or connection.
The Family Reunion: A planned opportunity for you to connect with, and be compared to, those who share strands of DNA. It is like the Christmas Letter on ‘roids (Steroids).
What do I mean “Christmas Letter on ‘roids?” Well….you are going to see each other face to face, so you can’t continue to lie about first born Frederick and his so-called career with Doctors Without Borders if Frederick is a complete mess and now wears an electronic bracelet on his ankle. And your little ballerina? You know…the one you bragged to everyone that she “was destined for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet”…well, let’s just say that it didn’t work out, but that the Commune where she now lives does allow dancing on special occasions.
The family will see you pull up in your 1975 Winnebago (a classic) and hear you and your hubby bicker as you put up the awning that you have patched with blue tarpaulin. While others enjoy a bottle of VQA Chardonnay at their campsite, you will be offering a Styrofoam cup of a 2012 home brewed Merlot (hubby will pronounce it mur-lot just to embarrass you..and it does).
Are these the reasons why you break into a cold sweat when you receive the invitation? You know…the form letter invitation addressed to “Howdy Family!” that is faded because it has changed hands multiple times, been photocopied and passed along again. Are you immediately self-conscious? Embarrassed? Feel like you won’t measure up? You want to remain hidden behind the façade you have so carefully manufactured in your annual Christmas letter?
Don’t get me wrong. I am also self-conscious about meeting long-lost family. For goodness sake, I still haven’t lost my baby weight yet and my “baby” will be 24 this summer! I don’t want to be the one…you know…..the one they talk about on the drive home.
I shouldn’t worry.
Your family appreciates you…..warts ‘n all (even if warts are not genetic and WARNING to anyone who Google searches the question, “Are warts genetic”). Having said that, there is a good reason why folks plan reunions so far ahead: It is so that you can get your poop in a group, get organized.
Here are some tips to help you enjoy your family reunion:
- Connect in advance: Start a facebook group and begin sharing pictures and information. Meeting on Social Media helps to break the ice and begin the conversation. You may find you have more in common than strands of DNA.
- Safety in numbers: Encourage your entire immediate family to attend. Doing so creates and reinforces that family bond.
- Leave a grudge at home: Reunions are not the place to bring a family grudge. No one cares about what someone did to someone else in 1964….they just don’t.
- Drink with care and grace: Don’t let the alcohol consumption get out of control.
- Be honest (kind of): Frederick’s parole officer won’t allow him to attend? Parse your words carefully. “I am sorry, Frederick couldn’t attend as he had a very important appointment that he simply couldn’t afford to miss”.
- Make accommodation for accommodation: If the 500 mile trip is asking a bit too much of the 1975 Winnebago, then look into booking a rental. Booking early will give you the best rate.
- Offer to help: Take on meal planning/preparation, organizing an activity or become the official photographer for the event.
- Leave regrets at home: Don’t wax poetic to family about what you were going to do with your life and didn’t….instead, share your successes, focus on the positive.
I am guilty of avoiding reunions. I don’t make them a priority in my life. Recent events have made me much more amiable to a family reunion…to the extent that I have tossed the idea about (much like a cat tosses a toy) of perhaps planning a reunion.
I am not sure if it will happen, but I do know that I will look much more favourably upon the next invitation I receive. That is…..unless I have a pimple.