I’m in the midst of writing a post about our giant Eyre family reunion to hopefully publish tomorrow. It was grand and I loved it so much. But right now I’m working through the question of navigating reunions when your kids grow up.

Because that’s happening for us.

And it’s kind of unchartered territory.

Since I have the oldest kids of anyone else in my family, two are now married AND we have a grand baby, I think reunions shift and change a tad. And there are some growing pains with that. Not only for me, but for everyone else too.

Can you “have your cake and eat it too” at family reunions?

Now, let’s be clear that there’s so much I love about this. In some ways it’s like I get to have my cake and eat it too. I get my smaller family to huddle with and love on, but I also get my siblings and parents and all their kids to love, all in the same place.

Awesome, right??

But it’s also pretty tricky to stretch my heart so much. I want to “be there” for everyone. How can I snuggle up Murphy in a corner and squeeze out some big smiles AND get on a deeper level with my nieces and nephews and figure out what makes them tick. I want to delve into worries and concerns a brother may be in the midst of AND talk hang with my husband in the middle of the chaos. I want to find time to ask my parents things about their lives AND glory in my sister’s latest accomplishments. It’s just a lot.

So, can you really have your cake and eat it too at a giant reunion? I’m working on shifting my vision a little here.

When your “big kids” move away and use reunion days as part of their time off, you want to soak them in with everything you’ve got. But you also want to use the precious time together with the bigger group to reconnect in ways you didn’t get since last year.

So, blah blah blah, it’s tricky.

I think it’s tricky for everyone else too. It used to be that we would put the little kids in bed at night and have all kinds of time to sit up late at night on the “talking couches,” solving all the world’s problems. And gradually we have come to a stage where practically all the kids are up all night right along with us, playing games and baking cookies and joining in the conversations too. I adore it. The best time to get to know all my siblings suddenly “big kids” who are growing into themselves. But just so many people to love!!

Things are shifting. And it’s just so interesting to watch how the “growing pains” work their way out.

We’ll take who we can get as our family grows up!

As kids grow and spread their wings, Dave and I have learned to take who we can get when we get them. We bask in togetherness when we can get it. So grateful we were able to have our own gathering “reunion” a few months ago. And we are learning to make the best of the times when not everyone can come.

This year at the reunion we were so grateful to get this crew to start off:

Pothier "big kids" plus Murphy who were at the reunion.

Claire is living her best life in London, so we tried to include her as much as we could from afar.

Lucy was finishing up girls camp, and Dave had to be here for some responsibilities at church that first Sunday.

Oh how I loved having these big kids there, with the chance to really be in amidst my siblings and their kids. On our traditional sunset walks:

Or on boat rides glorying in Bear Lake beauty:

…and also the ski boat with the other cousins:

On sharing Murphy …

Max and Elle with baby Murphy

Ok, am I biased or is that brother/sister with Murphy pic just the best??

Let’s throw in a few more of Murphy because boy is she loved!

That girl is a spitter just like her Aunt Gracie was!

There is something so special to me about watching these big kids of mine out leading on the “dance floor”…

…and sitting in deep discussions with my siblings and in-laws.

Abby talking with Aja and Charity.

Lucy arrived after coming late with my sister-in-law Aja straight from girls camp.

Aja and Lucy on the train

They had the best talk en route and oh how grateful I am for all these “second-parents!”

She came filled up with all the glory she gained at camp and I loved that she ran down to the beach and gave each one of us the biggest hugs. She was so excited to spill the beans about all that happened there to those siblings of mine she trusts so much. Jo took her straight out to paddle board.

Jonah and Lucy coming in from paddle boarding

It was so good to have Dave join in:

Shawni And David at Bear Lake

Since he couldn’t get there until Sunday night he missed Carson and Max who had to get back for work.

Again, we’ll take what we can get, right?

Luckily these guys stayed and we got to sneak off for raspberry shakes before they had to take off too.

Sneaking away to get raspberry shakes with the "big kids"

I guess in the midst of pondering navigating reunions when your kids grow up, I’m just grateful for this spot on earth.

Etta taking in Bear Lake at the reunion

This spot that is big enough for all of us as we try to stretch our hearts around every last one.

Thanks Mom and Dad for making it possible!

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  1. Thank you for posting your thoughts on this. I am 3rd oldest in a family of 10 kids. Reunions have become tricky for us as well. It’s seems like there are too many people to have equally meaningful time with, and I can feel as though I leave the time together pulled in different directions.
    I’ve suggested a one day reunion for everyone to come and gather plus games, photos etc. Then each sibling or family set making their own plans with one another surrounding the said day.
    Just brainstorming…but I would love to hear a future podcast on this topic!!

    1. Good thoughts. It will be interesting to navigate for the next few years as numbers will continue to grow. I think you’re right, we just have to be pretty conscientious and plan well so we can somehow get caught up with everyone. We did record a podcast for this next season at the end of the reunion addressing some of these things, but no answers yet!

  2. Did your grandparents have reunions like this? Did your mum or dad get together with their siblings regularly? Just curious if there are generational lessons/advice!

    1. We were thinking through these same questions following the reunion. They didn’t have reunions like this. I just remember getting together once in a while with my dad’s family and my mom only has one sister so we used to always do New Years Eve together. So grateful for at least that much. This kind of larger reunion growing so much each year is new territory for all of us. There are so many relationships to nurture! Maybe the generational advice is that it doesn’t have to be too big and overwhelming as long as there is intentional connecting effort involved.

  3. Driving back now from my reunion in Idaho. I have eight siblings, there are 47 grandchildren and 5 great-grandkids…so similar dynamics and I’m having so many of the same feelings. I’m the eighth kid however, so I’m still so set on having reunions for my little ones while my older siblings are struggling more with your thoughts. I love your “take what you can get”. I don’t know how things will work in the future, but it means the world to me to watch my grown nieces and nephews pouring into my kids, as well as my siblings. It’s chaotic and messy but also so incredibly beautiful.

    1. I so agree! I think you have many of the same thoughts as my youngest siblings. They want the same thing for their kids that they’ve seen for so many years. But I look at them and think how awesome it is that they get those older cousins to nurture and dote on their kids. When there are this many kids in a family each stage just turns out so differently. But you’re right, it’s all incredibly beautiful, right in the middle of the chaotic mess 😉

  4. I’ve heard of families alternating years. One year it’s just their families and another the whole group.
    But its not like you don’t see your kids and grandaughter a lot? Way more than most adults see their adult kids for sure. Just the fact that you are all flying in an out at different times on different days shows there is no lack of funding, so I wouldn’t worry, you see everyone more than most.
    Do you adult children contribute to the meals/activities/housing costs?

    1. Yes we do see our kids a lot, and I’m so grateful! And it’s the best to see them with my siblings. Just so many people to love, which is a pretty awesome “problem” to have I have to remember!

      The adult kids help with meals and planning activities for sure, but don’t pitch in for housing costs since the home is owned by my parents. And they swap weeks with their friends to use another big house so we can all have some space. Pretty lucky and grateful for that!

  5. My sweet neighbor has 5 children, are active lds and their families have gone through some tough things this past year ( divorce, transgender, faith transition) to name a few, and this year they decided they needed to get back to their roots, so they had 2 reunions.. One with just their adult children. No spouses or grandchildren. Most people would be sad about this, but she said it ended up been the best few days. Her kids loved it, and all spouses were 💯 behind it. They said hearts healed, they grew, they loved and now they’ll have their full reunion soon!

    1. That makes me so happy they figured out such a great solution that worked so well for them! I love that you brought that up because I think it just takes creative and intentional planning. Prayerful planning that will most likely be unique to each different situation. Because getting together in any way that works for your family is worth it in such beautiful ways!

  6. My husband is the second generation of an original 8 brothers and a sister group . He has deliberately attended every year of his life. our kids who would be third generation – where there are over 100 kids – really
    Benefited from these events. About 150-200 attend at some point over a three day event.
    They met cousins, they learned from the first and second generations. No everyone does not talk to everyone but the ones you do get to mix with are worth the trip. I’ve been encouraged, uplifted and taught over the years by these events. My advice is keep up the effort adjust expectations. realize while you may not deeply connect each year with each one, you will deeply connect with some each year and help each other. The world needs more meaningful ways to connect in person in real time. family reunions are powerful for all involved to see the strength in their family heritage and tribe. Thanks for sharing I love your blogging.
    Ps – the year I had my grouchy preteen (12 years old) take pictures with my phone opened her world as she met every single person at the reunion. It was her goal to get at least one picture of all 200. Those are priceless as some have passed on since then. Likewise she got out of her shell and asked all those people if she could take their pictures thus she interacted, although briefly, with everyone. It really helped her get to know others and others to know and notice her.

  7. You and your offspring get together a lot. I would go nuts with all the logistical issues involved to make this event happen. It is remarkable that everyone manages the trek. I’ve attended some fabulous family reunions of extended family. It’s always a big financial and time sacrifice. It’s worth it, but I don’t think I could sacrifice my resources every summer. Last year, we attended the wedding of our favorite nephew and it was well attended. It’s probably not okay to have a favorite, but it’s true. Otherwise, everyone lives far apart and it’s just too expensive to gather very often.

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