Family Reunions are usually held in the spring or summer. Now that the holiday season is over, it is time to start preparing and thinking about getting ready for your Family Reunion. Whether you are in charge of the event or just a family member in attendance, there are genealogical steps you can take in order to take full advantage of the family all in one place.
Take time several weeks before the reunion to review the family lines associated with the event. Who will be attending that might have the information you need? Maybe you can send a letter or email a few weeks early and let them know what you need. They might be able to bring the documents you need to continue your research.
Call or write family members, especially those older, to ask them to write or record stories about what they recall or heard growing up about the family. This might be a wonderful activity to share during the reunion. Gather pictures you may have and make a PowerPoint to show at the event. I created a PowerPoint slideshow one year for a reunion I attended. I had it going throughout the entire event so as family arrived they could see it. The children had a great time seeing their parents or grandparents as young children. It brought back many memories and tears. Seeing the style of dress, cars, hair styles, etc. was a great topic of conversation.
Having blank pedigrees and family group sheets to update families is a great idea. Hand one out to each branch of the family to update birth, marriages, deaths and any other event that may have occurred since the last reunion. Consider printing out several pedigrees containing the information you have already collected. This gives the family an idea of what you already know and what you are looking for. It also gives them a chance to learn about their family and hopefully get excited about what you are sharing with them. While there may be a few members that have no interest in what you have discovered, my experience is that there will be more excited to learn about the family data than those who would rather not.
Another aspect that is starting to get attention lately is health histories. As you do your research, especially as you document death certificates; look for the health issues that your ancestors experienced. Depending on your ethnic background, what foods does your family typically eat? Are you making healthy choices? Did your ancestorís have diabetes, heart trouble or cancers? Make note of those findings. Share that data with your family at the reunion. As another step, have the family fill out a health form sharing their health issues that might be hereditary. See if a certain disease has a pattern, like diabetes or cancer. Talk with each other about those issues and consider early testing and intervention as a precaution.
Laughter, fun activities and eating great foods are an important aspect of reunions. If you prepare ahead of time, it can also be a genealogical rewarding event.