Friday, June 27, 2008

Article #11 Family Reunions

As summer comes, it’s time for family reunions. When I was younger, they weren’t formalized once-a-year occasions. Every holiday was a reason to gather together. Nowadays, a family reunion is for one common ancestor and all their descend-ants. You could be involved in several reunions from different branches of your family tree but the modern pace of life is replacing many of our traditions from the past. Many families no longer hold these special get togethers. Young people aren’t too interested in being dragged to reunions to meet relatives they don’t know. 

This year I’m in charge of our Johnson reunion for my second great grandmother Vilborg Thordardottir who came to Spanish Fork, Utah from Iceland in 1874. Her descendants will meet together as part of the annual Icelandic Day’s celebration. The day is organized with children’s activities, cultural displays and authentic food available for purchase. In preparation for this occasion, I’ve compiled Vilborg’s history to share with family members. My Icelandic ancestors didn’t leave any journals, so I’ve researched their lives and discovered their homeland is an intriguing land of fire and ice located next to Greenland and was settled by the Vikings. I’ve also learned lots of interesting details about early Spanish Fork history.

We’ll meet together for lunch in the park and then visit with each other which is the real challenge. As families have grown and live so far apart these days, it’s not unusual for the cousins and their kids not to know the other relatives. Therefore some kind of break the ice game is needed, a let’s get acquainted activity with prizes. Some of our best attended reunions have ended with a water slide for the kids and more adventurous adults. Everyone looked forward to that activity in the hot summer months. 

Another idea we’ve tried is returning to the old homestead, town or local museum to learn more about our heritage which is what we are doing this year. The important thing is to be together, get acquainted better, look back, and appreciate our ancestors. It’s unfortunate, we don’t get our families together more often except for weddings, and funerals. The sad thing about funerals is that the one being honored is no longer around to enjoy our visit. Too bad we can’t organize one last family reunion to remember our good times together as a family before our own demise. (Photos above of my aunt Ethel now 88, cousins Marion and Bill, and some of my grandkids: twins Heather and Emilee and the youngest James.)


Jo, a retired teacher said...

You're right about reunions.
But even at my age (older than dirt) I don't much enjoy formalized activities with more distant relatives that I may have met only once before. I haven't seen some of my first cousins for 25 years and wouldn't know their children if I bumped into them. I'm afraid the only thing that will bring us together is a funeral. I guess that is one of the good things about someone's passing away: the reinforced connections between the survivors.

dellgirl said...

This is a good post. Hopefully someone reading it will begin to get together more often. My family never had reunions. Hubby's side did, but they're happening less and less often. Your grands are adorable.

Anonymous said...

Lin left out the part about her being the "driving force" behind this reunion! Without all of her hard work, a summer would have passed without a Johnson Family Reunion. Thank you Lin!

Linda Reeder said...

The older I get, the more important family reunions become, and this seems to be true for my siblings and cousins as well. Why is it that when wisdom finally comes, we have such a short time to use it?

mom/caryn said...

My family has never erally had much in the way of re-unions... and when they tried, they didn't work out too well. My husband's family on the other hand throws some world class, gold medal reuinions. Some of our family's favorite memories are of the good times shared with Wayne's aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings at a park in Lehi. The re-union we have with his brother's and sisters and all our kids is a week-end affair with skits, baseball games, volleyball, swimming, frisbie golf, home movies, crafts, treasure hunts, walks through old family homes, bad jokes, hikes, food, food, food... These family reunions have been such a great adhesive! We're excepionally close with one another. I love every minute of every one of them. Except that I'm in charge of next years. YIKES!

Linda's comment smacked a home run. Why IS it that when wisdom finally comes, we have such a short time left to use it? Good question!