How to Create an Awesome Family Reunion
Start out by holding a wedding to bring it on (last post). Ha!
It really was such a great kick-off though.
For reunions we have all kinds of traditions that we love.
But THIS year was a year to “Think Again” in many ways, including starting out with a wedding to name just one:)
My brother Tal and his Swiss wife Anita were the chairs of the reunion this year.
And when you’re in charge you come up with a theme. Tal and Anita introduced it like this first:
Then they took off the first layer to get to this:
And then they finally got to the English translation for us dummies who don’t know German or Swiss German (or whatever that first one was):
I LOVED that they chose this theme. I love how they centered all the activities of the reunion around how we need to “think again” in life. Sometimes we go so far down particular paths that we forget to stop and think, “is this really working for me?” Sometimes we forget to listen to others. Sometimes we forget there are so many ways to live a good life.
Every discussion and activity at the reunion was carefully crafted to help us think through things and reevaluate.
And in the spirit of thinking again, they even “thought again” about some of the traditional stuff we’ve been doing for years and shifted it up a bit. I mean, they started out by writing the reunion schedule out on a banner instead of a poster for crying out loud (ha!) They were ready to switch things up!:
Here’s the crowd enthralled by the firecrackers set of as the theme was revealed…and that they introduced colorful bandanas everyone could “think again” to wear in their own unique ways rather than the traditional reunion t-shirt:
Ok, that picture doesn’t really capture the “enthrallment”…maybe more confusion, but it was a great opening ceremony as it always is, and everyone was excited.
These were the posters Tal and Anita put up with some “Think Again” thoughts from the book so everyone could be prompted to “think again” as they passed by.
Lots to ponder over.
After dinner we headed down for our traditional
Campfire Reunion Kick-off:
Tal & Anita practiced the “Think Again” challenge by condensing the “personal favorite songs” portion of the campfire gathering (all about that HERE), to “family favorite songs,” and each family got to chose one that fit with them. (Those campfire gatherings have been getting longer and longer every year now that we’re up to 52 people in our family! That creates for a lot of songs to listen to!)
Some families stood up and did choreographed dances to their family song, and others just explained why they loved it, but either way, it was a grand gathering and ended early enough that we could do sparklers and s’mores without the little kids falling apart.
Loved that these four “kids” were lined up in a row beside me.
And Oh! I love those parents of mine you can see below who created all this and make the reunion possible each year:
There were fires in the area which is so sad but sure made for some pretty gorgeous sunsets.
Family Reunion Activities
Loved these challenges we were given after being split up into random groups the next day.
Here was “Challenge #1:”
Interesting how each version came out so differently and how we learned more with each rendering along the way. Great way to think again.
Here’s the next challenge:
Loved hearing that little tid-bit from each of our group members.
Here was the next challenge:
We had some good engineers in our group and we came up with this puppy we were proud of:
(Tal forgot to write that it had to be free standing on some of the group instructions so people got pretty creative with this challenge! Ian and his group just taped the spaghetti noodles together end to end and got a ladder to hold it from the roof to be super tall. Funny.)
Here was the last challenge:
Loved the creations people came up with like this beautiful purse that was loved and used the rest of the reunion:
Quite a fashion statement, right? 🙂
“Gospel Round Table”
That evening we had a gospel discussion that I loved.
Anita gathered all the young adults and led a discussion filled with so many questions about our church.
This spurred so many great thoughts and comments from everyone. I think it’s so great to talk deep about the worries and concerns about church as well as the things that are working wonderfully.
I’m sure this will be an ongoing discussion. I love that there was an avenue to create such a safe place for all kinds of gospel topics. This is one thing I am SO grateful my parents did with us growing up. Nothing we did was ever forced or too off limits to talk about.
There’s nothing like a great gospel discussion!
Family Reunion Jobs
Each year we have gone through having all kinds of elaborate systems for keeping things clean/after-dinner dishes, etc. (Search “Eyrealm Reunions” in the sidebar to the right to scan through for those ideas…everything from earning beads for necklaces to “cleaning teams,” to competitions.
This year was kind of just simple though. If your family was in charge of dinner, you were also in charge of clean-up. And everyone just kept areas clean where they were staying. See these cute dish-doers down below on the left?
(And also cute Abby and Faith on the right:)
Our married kids had to leave on Sunday to get back to work. This was our sad-but-oh-so-grateful-they-could-be-there-at-all little farewell selfie:
Family Reunion Testimony Meeting
We went to church and then came back for our traditional reunion testimony meeting. One of my favorite parts of the reunion. My Dad kicked it off talking about these world globes he and my mom gave us for Christmas:
And then everyone had a chance to share some thoughts about Jesus and the gospel and whatever went along with it.
Look at that beauty Julie down there almost ready to have that baby! She is a rockstar. And so is Lucy who always takes notes at church. I love how her mind/heart/spirit works:
Catching the end of the World Cup later that afternoon:
Hatching Baby Ducklings
My brother Josh always orders duckling eggs at the end of the school year for his third grade class. The kids love to watch those eggs hatch and they learn so much in the process! Each year those newly-hatched little ducklings come with the class to the end-of-the-year-party at our house and they are a hit.
My brother Tal decided this would be a great addition to the reunion this year and he was right.
The eggs came to my brother Noah’s house before the reunion and he and his family took care of them as they incubated. Tal started a “Ducklings” group on Marco Polo and everyone got to join in that process of waiting for those babies to hatch. It was a very entertaining thing to watch, I have to say. Perhaps the most entertaining was just Tal getting on to say, “hey duckling fans!” every now and again to keep everyone updated.
Below on the left those kids are holding up the eggs to the light to watch the movement inside. It’s a pretty incredible process!
That little incubator full of eggs came to the reunion and everyone was mesmerized as the ducklings started hatching (the first one right in the middle of the wedding!)
I wish I had a better picture, but so often there was just a huge crowd, kids and adults alike, mesmerized by those eggs:
Once they hatched, we had a special little spot for them at just the right temperature in the garage. These girls were so in love with them one night they even decided to have a sleep-over in there with them:
I thought it was pretty darling.
I thought it was darling how Josh taught the kids so much too, and you would see little groups like this just loving the duckling action (see them down there in the grass below?):
They even got to go swimming in the lake:
They grew up so fast in a matter of a week or so! (these pictures below were after the reunion…still the center of attention!):
My brother found an awesome farm in Dingle (the closest little town) who were happy to “adopt” the ducklings when we all split up. He still sends little update pictures from that farm. They are huge now!
It was a pretty fun addition to the reunion.
This new little activity was a hit as well. I’m not sure how they got this perfect mud all created there on the beach, but it provided some pretty entertaining stuff I must say!
See the progression below from most muddy to least muddy:
It started out just getting muddy but then the real wrestling began:
You can’t really “think again” too much about Fear Factor because everyone just loves it so much. Here are the kids waiting in anticipation for the first round to be introduced:
Every year there are some pretty funny antics that go on with this little activity.
I don’t know who won this time around, but I do know everyone loved it, and they had to get creative the last couple rounds and start mixing things together to try to get people “out” because so many kids are now pros I guess!
We cannot get enough of beautiful sunsets at the lake:
Also can’t get enough of sitting on these “talking couches” and talking through the world until deep into the night:
And the food, once again, didn’t disappoint. Especially when it was looking over that sunset!
(More about how we do food on any of those reunion posts linked above and also at the end of this post.)
My Mom did her traditional Grammie camps and I’m really disappointed I didn’t get more pictures of those. Because I know I’m biased but my mom ROCKS at being a Grandma. She takes little groups of kids to hone in on with some serious love and ancestor talk and classical music quizzes. (Lots more about Grammie Camps HERE and also if you search the sidebar I’m sure there’s a ton more.)
She works these in before and after the reunion and this year there were some residual things to be done from those camps, including…
This is another thing my brother Josh does with his class so she gets his help and as you can tell, the kids are pretty fascinated with the whole thing:
My Dad was busy with his things he does with the grandkids as well.
One of the things he does is makes a “treasure chest” with each grandkid when they turn a certain age. My big kids still use their “treasure chests” to hold their biggest treasures to this day, just like I used mine for years and years until it got lost in some move somewhere. (Still so sad about that!)
Here he is with Faith building her own whiz-bang treasure chest:
Family Reunion Tennis Tournament
Once again, Tal and Anita “thought again” about the annual tennis tournament, and did “best of three” singles this year rather than the traditional mixed doubles.
These were some of the match-ups:
More sunset love:
The women snuck up to the “Lighthouse” for breakfast one morning…because we love to be together any chance we can get:
Grace got in on all the hoopla on her p-day (although we don’t look particularly “hooped” up in this picture, but man alive I adore that missionary of mine!
And we might as well end on…
…you guessed it…
There we go.
Another Eyrealm Reunion wrapped up in the books.
So grateful for those days spilling out with the people I love in that place I love with new ideas and thoughts spilling out to change my heart in good ways and help me to “think again.”
Thank you Tal & Anita for all the hard work to make it happen!
And Mom & Dad, I adore you.
Links for more posts about family reunions:
(And also HERE)