It's Family Reunion Time!

Posted by Nancy Desmond
MemoryWeb Co-founder

Summer is in full swing and so is the season of family (and other) reunions.

I have quite a few of these gatherings this year, including a family reunion on my husband's maternal side that just took place in Ohio. I've been joining my husband Chris for these reunions since 2004, and they're typically held every 5 years. This one was pushed up a year in order to time it so we could all celebrate a beloved uncle's 90th birthday and it was an absolute blast as always.

A Great Tip for Connecting the Dots

Chris's extended family is quite large with many branches stemming from five siblings born in the early 1900's. Cousins galore! When you only see each other every half decade, it can be hard to remember names, ancestor connections, and to even recognize kids who have grown and changed over the years.

This time around, the reunion organizers introduced something that was equal parts brilliant and useful -- color coded badges! These identified which family line the wearer had descended from or joined through marriage or adoption, so it was easy to tell in just a glance what connection you may have to that relative.

It was especially helpful for someone who had married into the family like me. I could more easily navigate conversations with new folks who hadn't made previous reunions, and the color coding was a great reference tool when talking with relatives I had met only a few times before.

Celebrating Old Traditions

For the out-of-towners and local relatives alike, one of our favorite things to do is drive by houses and other landmarks that hold special significance in the family's collective history.

This tradition also includes paying a visit to restaurants that the family has enjoyed for multiple generations, and debating, yet again, which truly is the best ice cream spot in town.

Personally, I'm hard-pressed to find an ice cream place I don't enjoy, so I leave it to the more passionate members of the family to make their cases.

Even to someone who has married into the family, it's obvious how important these places and traditions are to the shared history of these relatives.

Many great memories and family bonds are rekindled while everyone gathers at these spots for a bite of food. We also get a chance to fill each other on what's happened since the previous reunion. And, of course, we take and share lots of pictures to help commemorate the occasion.

All Hail the Family Genealogists

For those of you who are your family's history tracker and keeper, we tip our hats to you.

Our reunion was incredibly enriched by having pedigree charts, printed copies of family stories, and binders upon binders of old photos and clippings handy to peruse. And, of course, the family stories and legends had all been fact checked!

Perhaps it's not obvious how much your efforts mean to your kin as you spend all that time, effort and expense searching for and documenting your family's genealogy on a day-to-day basis. I can tell you there were many moments where folks were absolutely stunned by facts, images and stories they were able to see, touch and share at my husband's reunion. Even more, everyone was immensely grateful to know that future generations will have this incredible legacy of knowledge thanks to the resident genealogist(s) in their midst.

For those of you with family reunions coming up soon, we wish you safe travels and happy gatherings.

Nancy and the MemoryWeb team

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