After the Family Reunion

So you went to the family reunion this summer — maybe more than one. You spent enough time with people there to remember why we have family reunions, and why we have them only once every year or two. Now what?

Now I’m in trouble, that’s what, because you think I just insulted my family — and they might agree with you. Allow me to explain.

I don’t mean to suggest that I dislike my relatives. I like them. I enjoy them. They’re good, interesting people. Just as important, the reunion pot-luck fare is always abundant and superb. But, even though the reunion I attend almost every year lasts only a few hours, with preparations and travel it occupies two or three days, because it’s 275 miles away. For some who attend regularly, it’s much further and longer. That’s a significant chunk of summer.

My mother and her seven Babcock siblings

Decades after this photo was taken of my mother and her seven siblings, some of them are still around to show up at the annual family reunion.

I actually enjoy the travel, and the reunion itself is fun. But I don’t think the reunion’s only purpose is itself. If it doesn’t help knit the family together during the year, then it’s just a long way to drive for a great meal, plus some chatter that could as easily be had on Facebook (if we could get most of the family on Facebook).

This summer, I wasn’t in charge of the Alexander Reid Noble reunion, which is held annually in Arco, Idaho, in early August. (Turn left at Pickle’s Place, a conspicuous local restaurant owned by my cousin, and we’re usually in the pavilion behind the church just ahead on your left.) I’m not in charge next summer. So I don’t have any official duties in between, except for inviting my cousin, who is in charge, to share the Google spreadsheet where I keep all the family contact information. But there are still some things I can do. There are probably some things you can do, too.

You know that fun idea you had, between seconds on Aunt Tillie’s home-grown ham and cousin Joe’s Dutch oven peach cobbler-to-die-for? Write it down before you forget it. Then do something about it in time for next year’s reunion.

In my case, a few years ago, that idea was republishing my grandmother’s biographical essays. I remembered just in time to pull it off before the next reunion.

bertha babcock essays

Our publication of my grandmother's essays

Two years ago, I decided to get my hands on my grandmother’s old missionary journal, from her church mission in the deep South, and send a copy to her great-grandson, my nephew, who was serving in the same area. That one didn’t go so well. The journal of which I had heard turned out to be someone else’s.

Last year, a few hours too late, I thought how much my children would have enjoyed a morning at nearby Craters of the Moon, before spending the afternoon at the reunion. This year, as it happened, my eight year old and one of his favorite cousins had recently studied volcanoes in school, and they were delighted to join me for a pleasant morning tramping around one of Idaho’s odder attractions and pitching difficult geological questions at patient park rangers.

This year, I had two thoughts on which I should act for next year. First, use the family Facebook group I created a couple of years ago, when I was in charge, much more aggressively, to pull in the younger generations of the family. Second, bring all those old family photos to the next reunion, and have the entire family help identify the people in them. (Most of them won’t have heard of crowd-sourcing, but that’s okay.) Maybe they’ll be able to identify the times and locations, too.

my son and my niece at Craters of the Moon

My youngest son and his cousin at Craters of the Moon

There are some other things you’re more likely to remember, perhaps. Be sure to share the best photos on MyHeritage, Facebook, Pinterest, Google Plus, or wherever you do those things. While you’re at it, print out a few and snail-mail them to Aunt Tillie, who wouldn’t go near the Internet to save her immortal soul. I’m not saying this will inspire her to write you into her will, but at least you’ll put a smile on her face.

I’ve told you my ideas. I don’t know yours. Whatever they are, it’s time to inscribe them in your to-do list and your calendar, or at least post a note on your fridge, so you and others can enjoy next year’s reunion even more.

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4 Responses to “After the Family Reunion”

  1. Hilary Ashcroft says:

    I am hoping that you are able to advise or help me in some way. A friend of mine Mrs INA SPIES has been in contact with you in regards information on DNA Testing and forwarded your details on to me.

    Would it be possible to send me information on it, how to go about it, is it a long process and the cost involved. Ina told me it was about $170 can you confirm this? Are you able to establish the present whereabouts of the person’s in question or how would we go about doing that?

    My wish is to find my biological father. I was born in Bulawayo Zimbabwe on 30.10.1943 and was adopted out some ten days later. I had been in contact with Births and Deaths in Zimbabwe but because of my adoption they could and would not release any information. I did however manage to find out my biological mother’s maiden and married name and tried to make contact with my Birthmother but sadly she refused any contact at all.

    The only information on my father was that they thought he was an R.A.F Pilot or Trainee Pilot from England, based at the Thornhill Airforce Base in Gwelo Rhodesia, now Gweru Zimbabwe between 1942 – 43 and a name which could be his first name or family name but none of this is for sure.

    I am aware that this could be a long shot and he might not be around any more but time is running out and anything is possible. My mother was about sixteen at the time and still at school, which would make him I think eighteen to twenty plus if he was a trainee.

    I started my search for my biological family in 1986 after my adoptive parents had passed away. It has been a continuous battle and very frustrating. I have truly felt as if I have hit that brick wall.

    It would be a dream of mine come true to be able to see, meet and even get to know my Biological Families on both sides. I am sure there must also be a few siblings as well and even hope that my mother has had a change of heart.

    Look forward to hearing from you.

    Mrs Hilary Ashcroft

  2. Trish Sterry says:

    Years ago I helped with our Luchak reunion, & made name tags for EVERYONE attending. On the tags was listed the name of the person, the parents of that person, and some had the grandparents names-for that side of the family. Babies got new hand written ’soft’ tags with the parents name. This tag was attached to the back of the child’s shirt/dress or carrier with a safety pin. In my father’s family there were 5 siblings. The name tags for each sibling’s extended family were color coded. That way it was easy to recognize who the base parents were. It made it much easier to get to know each other.

  3. Trish Sterry says:

    Just realized I left out a few things: On the name tag, the spouse’s name was included, but not the spouses parents, etc.

    In 1993 I published a book with family group sheets starting with my father’s great grand father. I included photos, documents, and stories from each family who chose to participate.

    I learned a hard lesson. Do not tell anyone how much the book will cost UNTIL you get the bill from the publisher. I thought it would cost about $10.00 per book, told the group, and took orders. It cost me $20.00 each. After the orders were paid and delivered, I sold the rest for $20.00. Some were upset and I still have some books on my shelves.

  4. David Rodeback says:

    I’m not a DNA expert, but information about the various DNA kits we offer through our partner, Family Tree DNA, including pricing, is available here: http://www.worldvitalrecords.com/dna-tests/all-dna-tests.aspx.

    Additional information is available at our FAQ: http://www.familylink.com/dna-tests/dna-tests-faq.aspx.

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