Sunday Reflections – Family Reunions

2006 Reunion

About 80 strong, my husband’s family gathers the last Sunday in July every year for a reunion. My father-in-law is one of 12 children, and the 11 brothers and sisters still alive along with their families gather to reconnect with 4 generations coming together for this one afternoon.

Every year the group changes, some gone through death and divorce and some simply absent because of other commitments. New arrive through marriage and birth. The group has certainly changed, grown mostly, over the 25 years I’ve been attending.

My husband and boys love these reunions. They love seeing cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. They love playing the games and eating the food. My family history does not include that of reuniting much, yet I am intrigued by this tradition and want to understand its draw.

As I watch my husband’s family at reunions, the purposes behind reunions themselves becomes clear. Those purposes are to keep in touch, rekindle relationships, preserve heritage and create intergenerational relationships.

Most people at my husband’s reunion see each other only once a year and this is their way of keeping in touch. With busy lives, not coming together intentionally every year means losing that connection. Many of these relationships would completely cease to exist if not for this yearly reunion, so reconnecting and rekindling relationship is a major reason for attending.

Preserving heritage at my husband’s reunions comes in the form of a prominently displayed family tree and a trivia game about the growing-up years of my father-in-law’s family. In today’s culture, hearing about the life of 12 children on a farm in Michigan during the depression fascinates all ages. I am amazed at how much the “original” group remembers of their childhood. The trivia game provides a unique way for the heritage of each individual present to be preserved.

2007 Reunion

Intergenerational relationships exist too with younger and older connecting for conversations, games and some even further connecting outside of the reunion. This unique setting creates an atmosphere for age to at least somewhat be ignored while generations connect and play together for one afternoon.

These reunions have provided a terrific way for my kids to not only connect with their paternal heritage, but they are also able to connect with my husband’s and my heritage (our beginnings as a couple). As we drove home from the reunion, we showed them where we went to school and the town where we grew up, and they were truly interested.

These yearly reunions have created a longing in my kids and myself to continue the tradition of family reunions as my boys grow and start families of their own (not for a while yet though). This greatly encourages me as the years with my kids seem to be fleeting away.

The Final Reunion

In 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, Paul talks about a reunion that is meant to encourage those who will get to attend. This will be an event when all Christians throughout time are united together. Even more significant is that they will also be united with Christ. This reunion will have no ending. Relationships will be permanently rekindled. The heritage we have as sons and daughters of the Most High King will exist as a reality we live out as we each receive our inheritance. Age will cease to matter and perhaps to even exist.

As I struggle with the fact that my own family does not reunite regularly, I am able to find joy in a family that still clings to what says only about 45% of families still do every year. My joy increases when my kids catch excitement for experiencing their heritage more fully and for wanting to continue that tradition themselves. Finally, when I realize the picture of eternity that family reunions provide, a great anticipation for the ultimate family reunion comes alive in me.

DISCUSSION: Does your family meet yearly? How does this affect your sense of connection in general? What thoughts do you have of the final reunion in Heaven?

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Be determined. Pursue simplicity. Find balance. Be curious. Be deliberate. Be intentional. Age gracefully. Make the most of every opportunity.


July 30, 2012 at 11:27 am

Never thought of heaven as a family reunion, but I love the concept. An ongoing family reunion! We've done several family reunions with my family – not extended, just my sister, two brothers and their families plus my mom and dad – 12 kids in all and 10 adults. It's always a lot of fun and good for the kids to get to know each other since we live so far apart – Minnesota, Montana, Colorado, North Dakota, and Washington.

    July 30, 2012 at 11:36 am

    I love how God uses the good things in our lives to point toward the even better things He has planned in Heaven. Sounds like your reunions are a good time too. Our family, believe it or not with the large amount, are not that far apart (Michigan & Indiana mostly).

      July 30, 2012 at 12:39 pm

      Oh, for some reason, I was thinking of you as living on the east coast. Michigan sounds wonderful – it's one of those states that's always intrigued me. Don't you have a state park up north that can only be reached by boat and only walking on the island or something like that? Isle Royal? Is that what it's called? Or is my memory totally failing me?

        July 30, 2012 at 12:52 pm

        Isle Royale is between Michigan & Minnesota. I'm not familiar with it though. We also have Mackinac Island, which is a wonderful place to visit. Michigan has a lot of state park land available for hiking and camping. Wonderful place to visit, especially if you want to be out in nature and on a lake. People avoid us in winter sometimes, but it is often at it's most beautiful then. Lived here my whole life!

          July 30, 2012 at 1:40 pm

          Ah, Mackinac Island, that's the one I was thinking about – I'd like to go there sometime! Scott and I might take a cross country road trip when our youngest graduates in a couple of years (to drown our sorrows from having an empty nest!). We've never been to New England – maybe we'll stop at Mackinac Island on the way.

          July 30, 2012 at 2:11 pm

          Definitely worth a trip. Beautiful place! You could travel up through Michigan, go to Mackinac Island, then through the U.P. and into Canada and over to the East Coast. Fun way to go!

          July 30, 2012 at 5:46 pm

          THat's a great idea – we'll have to think about that!

Mark Allman
July 30, 2012 at 1:53 pm

I like the idea of reunion's but my family nor my wife's family does one. Sadly the only reunion times seem to occur at funerals. All my brothers and sisters and my mom do get together at Christmas and we do love that. About 25 people and more when you throw in girlfriends and boyfriends.

July 31, 2012 at 11:48 am

Since I'm the only sibling outside the Lone Star State, whenever I travel to Texas, I let my family know when I'm coming and where I'll be. At least once a year, we try to all get together. Most recently we hooked up in April and the time was more special because a brother had been diagnosed with lung cancer earlier in the year. We all recognize that, whether in Texas or in Heaven, we'll get together again thanks to the promises of God.

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