Families can be really odd and in most cases difficult to get on with but unlike your friends, you can’t choose them. But despite all the differences they can be a great source of strength and serve to promote a healthier, more rounder set of children. It was for the latter reason I took the tentative steps to do a long overdue family reunion.
Over the years tragedy, arguments and geographic location split my family apart and at the time this was fine with me. University beckoned, then work, love and then life monopolized my time so ‘the family’ was put on the back burner. It was only when I became a father myself that I realized that the fractures which coursed through my family over the years would mean my daughter may not know a whole side of her family (my side). This thought motivated me to try and organize a dreaded family reunion.
In many ways, organizing a family reunion is like organizing a wedding except that the guests are a mix of loved ones, arch enemies, and near strangers. First thing to do was to organize the venue. My original thought was to have it at my house, the reasons being:
- - It’s my idea
- - Its near the beach
- - I will be in my comfort zone
- - Near to my wife's family to mingling could be an option
However this presented various disadvantages including:
- - It was the South East Coast so far from everyone
- - Not enough room to sleep everyone
- - May be control issues
- - People would have to pay for hotels, travel etc
Narrow The Options
So after searching around I narrowed it down to two possible options, The Terrace in Windermere and Blithfield Lakeside Barns in Staffordshire which both could take 25+ all in close proximity. After weighing up the costs, size, local amenities, closeness to family members I opted for Windermere as most of the family were in the north and the eight people who had to travel did get a holiday in the Lake District. The pull of the Lake District and the offer of free accommodation worked a treat and nearly 30 people turned up.
The Terrace was perfect as it gave everyone their own space and the communal rooms were big enough to cater for large groups. Each of the houses in the terrace had their own ‘unique’ element such as a jacuzzi, pool room and large garden and the different groups mingled, bonded and above all rebuilt old bridges whilst making new fun memories together. Over the weekend, some paid their way and offered to pay for rooms, food and even activities when lots of us went to a boat trip on an old steamer. Of course there were some drunken debates but everyone was joined in a sense of reunion and with all aunts, grannies and children meeting (for the first time for some) there was even a few tears.
By the end I was a few hundred pounds lighter from the accommodation but my family were taken care of over the weekend and my daughter now finds herself with more calls, birthday /Christmas presents and some great first memories of the family she has up and down the country.
Since then we have organized a New Years Eve gathering at Blithfield Lakeside Barns for a smaller number but was equally successful and saw us going to Uttoxeter racecourse on News Years Day for a day at the races.
For anyone who is thinking of organizing a family reunion I would say ‘go for it’ as life is too short to hold grudges and we all do stupid things whether its not keeping up with communication or stabbing someone in the back. You may not be able to choose your family but you can choose to be a family member and despite differences in personality, outlook and views you might find strength in numbers. I know my daughter appreciates knowing her family so this is all the reason i need.
About the Author–Ian Garstang works at Kingsland Linassi, an award winning, Top 100 UK creative design agency. When not roaming the prairies of the SEO landscape Ian enjoys social networking, Indie video games and good design. Like our Facebook page, follow our Twitter feed and circle us at Google+