When it's Reunion Time…

C, Suz and me in the waves

Next week our family will be headed to my family reunion–it’s a fairly small one with just my siblings, their families, and my mother. This reunion will also by my youngest sister’s wedding celebration (the last sibling to marry), we will also be joined by various extended family members for portions of the week.

My family has held some fun reunions: in the past we’ve traveled to France, the Isle of Man, and the Czech Republic. One summer we rented a beachhouse on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, another we stayed in a large ski condo in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. We generally combine the reunion with either a genealogy-type of event (as was the trip to the UK where we visited the areas where my mother’s family originated), a trip to see a region where one of my brothers served a mission, or a jaunt to see the various areas where we each live.

my sibs

I’ve loved every one of the reunions even if I grumble sometimes about hokeyness of matching reunion t-shirts, having to pay for trips to areas that aren’t on my top-10 travel list, or procuring the requisite coordinated clothes for the annual family photo (typically my Mom’s Christmas card pic).

I’m curious whether your families hold reunions and what you do together? Do you travel to faraway places? Do you gather at the same spot every year? Do you ever feel resentful about using your vacation time (and money) to gather as an extended family rather than going on your own trips? What are your very best reunion memories?

Paris reunion, June 2004

Pictures: Top one is of me, my younger sis, and my son frolicking in the Atlantic Ocean in 2006. Middle pic shows us trying to get the perfect sibling photo in my next-younger brother’s Portland backyard in 2005. Bottom pic is my family on the streets of Paris in 2004.


Jana is a university administrator and teaches History. Her soloblog is http://janaremy.com

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  1. Kiri Close says:

    How cool that your whole fambizzle travels for reunions! My siblings and I travel internationally only as individuals and with spouses/own family units.

    But Samoans in general like to frequently get together. Whoever can make it that year, then awesome! I really love the getting together part of it all. Samz traditionally have huge azz families, too. So there’s a lot of us, which means there’s always a lot of noise. Nice.

    What I hate is when World War 10 hits because of some stupid comment, or some dumb thing that happened in the past that gets resurrected/reincarnated into immediate, major dramaz.

    But once the food is served, most of us shut-up, laugh, eat, talk story, and tease each other. As crazy as my fam iz, I’m so happy we can get together as often as we can. Since our family is very christian (mixed Mormon, LMS, catholic, etc.), we pray together in the evenings as is custom in the islands regardless of the reunion location (LA, Tennessee, Hawaii, etc.).

  2. Stephanie says:

    My father’s family usually gets together once a year in the city where my grandmother lives. It is a summer destination, a small city flanked on both sides by beautiful lakes. Usually we go up to this garden at an agricultural research station and have a picnic. Sometimes they try to have a family testimony sharing session, which can be really awkward, especially when my crazy cousin gets going. (This is someone who gave one of his sons the middle name(s) “Brigham Young” and the other “Porter Rockwell”. I wish I was kidding.)

  3. sarah says:

    I love family reunions. We never traveled for them, but every other year, my Grandpa (and Grandma while she was still alive) would rent a condo or house at Bear Lake or the Homestead in Heber. Well, I guess that means I never traveled, but my aunts and uncles did. We would all pack in there like sardines, make a cooking schedule, and break out the Scrabble. Sometimes there would be semi-organized activities, like renting jet-skis or a hay-ride, but I really love just being with my family.

    I don’t remember any specific reunions, they all just jumble up in my memory. But there’s always games, jigsaw puzzles, and great conversation. And lots of making fun of each other. I honestly don’t know if anyone else in the family loves reunions as much as I do.

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  5. Caroline says:

    My family doesn’t really do reunions, since we all live within an hour of each other. But we do go up to Santa Cruz occasionally and rent a house by the beach. My dream is for all of us to someday do an Alaskan cruise.

    Kiri, were you at the Exponent retreat last year? I think I went to one of your sessions.

  6. betty nurse says:

    my family do a reunion annually, it always held in the same place, yes it’s in my grandfather home, he life in a village where everything is still natural. visiting the village and enjoying farming areas is wonderful, cheap and need not to spend much money. for us the most important thing is to spend a quality time and to have good communication. but having trip to overseas is also wonderful.
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  7. Paula says:

    Jealous, I am. The thought of having a family that would actually go somewhere together other than the town park where we swat flies for a couple of hours over lackluster dutch oven cooking is just wonderful. Paris? Unimaginable with my group of cheap mormon relatives.

  8. tracy m says:

    Yeah, I’m the only one that moved away, and even six years later, my mom is still mad at me. No one goes anywhere besides my mom’s house, and since it’s my fault I’m not around to do that, it’s just too bad for me.

    I’m relishing your close family, and their willingness to work so hard to be together. Be glad.

  9. EmilyCC says:

    I love wacky family reunions. I guess that’s the only kind my family ever has–out in the middle of nowhere so we have to spend time together and try to look less dysfunctional for our cousins.

    But, my favorite reunion story is my husband’s. On his grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary, everyone came to celebrate for a weekend. They threw a party and even made t-shirts to commemorate the event.

    They lived in a small town, so it was easy to figure out who to call when a 7-Eleven caught my husband (I guess he was 12 at the time?) shop-lifting candy, wearing the reunion t-shirt.

  10. Jessawhy says:

    Awesome story. Mark loved it.
    As a kid we went camping and sang around the campfire.
    Now we don’t really do anything. We can’t really afford it, but I would love to do something like Jana has described later in life.
    I saw a post on my friend’s blog about taking some fake mustaches to her family reunion. From the pics, it looks like it made for a great time.

  11. Ana says:

    Our big extended-family reunions are usually in Utah. There have been some efforts to hold the smaller branch reunions in locations more convenient to us expatriates (ok, so we live in California and Washington) but the Utahns sometimes don’t seem to like to leave Utah.

    I’ll be heading for Bear Lake and then Moab in August for a reunion and a wedding, respectively. Me and the kids – no husband. It was supposed to be his time to steam out the last bits of his dissertation. But he’s now threatening not to finish until December. Big sigh.

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