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Three generations of the Bryson family generations, gathered together from six continents. (Courtesy of Bryan Bryson)

Three generations of the Bryson family, gathered together from six continents. (Courtesy of Bryan Bryson)

Updated on July 31:

Thanks to all who submitted their memories! We selected a few photos and stories to feature on our website — check them out and listen to our full show on family reunions.

Original Post:

On Tuesday, July 30 we’re doing a show on family reunions.

We want your photos and stories!

Does your extended family come together every year? Every other year? Where? What activities do you do?

What has been the best/worst experience you’ve had at a family reunion?

Are you the planner? How difficult is it to get everyone to show up?

Send us your stories, photos, videos by doing any of the following:

We’ll feature a slideshow of collected photos on our website as well as excerpts from your stories.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • ElizabethKnaus

    I designed a family tree chart which is often used as an activity project or “party favor” when families gather together. It’s available at http://FreshRetroGallery.etsy.com/.  A few weeks ago we traveled for a class reunion and also gathered together with my husband’s family. Then we crossed the South Dakota border for a reunion with my side of the family in Minnesota. Some of the activities included:
    making a list and grocery shopping together
    meals
    church
    parade
    thrift store
    swimming pool
    hiking
    flea market
    public fire works show
    boutique shopping
    tubing down Fish Hook River (it was a hit, so we did it 2 days in a row)
    bon fire (my husband calls them bond fires :-) 
    Photography was on on-going process and we’ve created lasting memories to share with each other. At the time the bonfire photo was taken, the group was split up and not everyone is in it. We are spread out across the states so planning is required to make reunions happen. This year it began with me emailing some dates I could travel to Minnesota where four sisters and a brother live. Others joined in the planning once the dates were set. We drove 1,657 miles on our round-trip to northern Minnesota. My son lives in Oregon and left his home at the same time we left ours in Kansas. He switched planes in Denver. We arrived at the airport in Sioux Falls, South Dakota within 10 minutes of each other where he switched from air to road-trip with us and vise-versa on his way home.

  • http://www.facebook.com/princess.small Princess Eddywana Small

    We’re having our next reunion this weekend in DC, but I don’t have an image of the shirt yet. Unfortunately, my mother has been roped into organizing it for the second time in a row AND on the fly because someone dropped the ball. It’s in her nature to do so, but it’d be nice if family didn’t take advantage of her. In addition, people aren’t paying their dues on time. I don’t think people realize how much money has to be paid up-front before they even get there. While I’m closer to my maternal side, I don’t think I could put up with what she does for the sake of getting people related by blood together. Oh, and did I mention that I, a licensed guide, have been guilted into being the family’s tour guide? For FREE? Mom likes to warn me to never do business with family because they don’t pay, but I guess it doesn’t count if the family is your own mother! Love ya ma!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1156808585 Angela Johnson- Dorsey

    In August 2012, I was the reunion planner the first-ever reunion for the 20 children of Thomas McDonald, my great-grandfather, in Fayetteville, NC. My great-grandfather was born a slave in southeastern NC. He had approximately 20 children with two different wives and has nearly 500 living descendants. The reunion we had in August, was the first attempt to bring together the living descendants. We had over 360 attendees, in total.

    Our reunion activities included a meet-and-greet, family barbeque with a baseball game, a formal dinner, and a Sunday worship service. Our souvenir reunion program included welcome letters from the mayor of Fayetteville, letter from the CEO of the Fayetteville Convention and Visitors Bureau, letter from the Chancellor of Fayetteville State University and letter from the pastor of our ancestral church home. Approximately one year prior to the event, I reached out to the mayor’s office in Fayetteville and we had two council people show up at our event to give a city issued proclamation to our oldest family members. The city of Fayetteville, NC issued a city proclamation naming August 12, 2012 McDonald Family Day.

    An event of this size never would have been possible if it hadn’t been for social media. We automated as many processes as we could as much as possible. We created a Facebook page with a special site to provide reunion updates. We also established a reunion site with another company that allowed us to handle online ticket purchases. The great thing about this is that we were able to increase attendance simply by allowing people to purchase their tickets online. Approximately 30%-40% of our attendees used online option for making their reunion arrangements.

    This is a link to one of our reunion photos titled, “The
    McDonald Family Wobbles, But We Don’t Fall Down.” Go to: http://www.customink.com/photos/mcdonald-family-wobbles-but-we-don-t-fall-down. This photo features nearly 200 family members doing a popular line dance called, the Wobble. The photo won a photo contest on a popular t-shirt site called, Customink. 

    This is a link to a video snippet about our reunion. Go to:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBBRoYBCId4&feature=youtu.be.

    I am being interviewed in this video and you can also see brief scenes from our reunion events.

    • http://www.facebook.com/saffore.familyreunion Saffore- Scyffore FamilyReunio

       Great Job!

  • http://www.facebook.com/oliver.peters.jr Oliver Peters Jr.

    The Peters Reunion Story

     

     

    This is a story about my Father who started a tradition more
    than 40 years ago. This tradition, of gathering all his brothers & sisters
    and their families together once a year has turned into a “must do” event for
    all of us in the Peters family.  My
    Father had listened to a neighbor of his, years ago back in the mid 60’s, tell
    of their once a year get together’s, and how special it was to them. Thus began
    a tradition, now 40 years old of the Peters Family Reunion.

     

    My Father gave careful consideration on how to “suggest”
    this concept to his 4 other siblings. 
    Even though you could consider them close, they actually lived far
    apart.  Add in the fact that everyone had
    kids, (some quite small) traveling to an unknown vacation spot, for a whole week,
    and sharing that week with 20-35 other nieces, nephews, girlfriends,
    boyfriends, and even pets, well it might be a real hard sell.

     

    My Father spent 2 years coaxing everyone to “just try it
    once”.  So in August of 1970 we set out
    for a spot along the Delaware River in New Jersey.  That year we came from Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, about 20 of us. We rented 4
    “bungalows” along the river and spent the next week getting reacquainted with
    one another. Of the five “original” Peters siblings (Ellen, Jim, Ollie, Dave,
    & Harriet, only Jim couldn’t attend. 
    He was nearing the end of his long and distinguished career as a navel
    officer, and was out at sea.

     

     I was 16 then.  Some of my cousins I had never met, or knew
    very little about. But during the week we shared everything.  Even though we were in separate quarters, we
    always shared the evening meal as one huge family. With each of the family’s
    serving various dishes to consume, there was always plenty to eat.  We all ate outdoors, on several rows of
    picnic tables. 

     

    During the day we swam, floated in the river in big black
    truck tire inner tubes, and played a variety of made-up-on-the-spot baseball,
    basketball, or whiffleball games.  Rules
    were made up to accommodate the 15 or 20 participants. 

     

    That year, 1970 started this tradition for our family.  Since then we have held 39 Peters Reunions.  (We missed 4 due to events out of our control
    – one had a family move, another, a job transfer, etc)  Now, this July 2013 we will gather once again
    for our 40th reunion.

     

    Since 1970, we have held our reunions on the Delaware, at Lake Bomoseen
    in Vermont, Lake Gaston
    on the VA, NC border, at Deep
    Creek Lake
    in western MD, and now on Smith
    Mountain Lake
    in VA. This year some 40 people will travel to the reunion from, California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska,
    Pennsylvania,
    Florida, Maryland, and Virginia. We have rented
    8 townhome/condo for all to fit into. 

     

    A lot has evolved since that first reunion.  Evening meals are still shared together, but
    our family now gets divided into 5 “groups”. 
    Each group is responsible for providing one evening meal for
    everyone.  You bring the beverage of your
    choice and we will provide the hors doves, main meal, and dessert.  Each year we also rent a ski boat from the
    local marina.  Here the “heads of
    households” divvy up the cost of the boat for the week, while the younger, 3rd
    generation (late teen, early 20’s) kids pay for all the gas. One family member
    brings all the water ski’s, tow ropes, etc, another brings all the sports
    equipment (football, bocce ball, Frisbee, Volleyball) while still another
    brings the past years “memories”.   There
    are four large photograph type books that contain a written history of each
    reunion.  Who attended, what was served
    for meals, as well as pictures from each year, including 39 years worth of
    group pictures.  There was also a DVD created which chronologically shows the
    reunions by way of pictures and movies (super 8 up to digital). Now with the
    digital age all around us, all of the original pictures, video’s, letters, and
    newspaper articles have been scanned and up loaded to a web storage site for
    all to see whenever they want.

     

    In 2013 Ollie, Dave, and Harriet will be there.  Ellen passed away in 2000.  And Jim is now too ill to travel from his
    home in California. So, along with the three attending original Peters siblings
    will be cousins that I have kept in contact with since 1970.  Plus their spouses, and their children.  A large group to be sure, but one that never
    would have know each other, or have gotten to know the Peters family history,
    if it not for the dream that my Father had more than 40 years ago.

     

     

    Addendum (added July 2013):

     

    Our 40th Reunion was a HUGE success. 39 people attended this
    year, staying in 8 townhome units at The Waterways on Smith Mountain Lake. This
    year, a reporter from the local Roanoke VA Times’ “Laker Weekly”
    edition wrote up a short story about our 40 years together —->
    http://roanoke.com/lakerweekly/lakernews/2080977-12/family-gatherings-span-four-decades.html

     

     

     

    Oliver Peters Jr.

    1113 Janney St
    SW

    Leesburg,
    VA. 20175

    703-777-4129       

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1087250033 Dee Vitka

    Shelton High School, Shelton, CT – Class of 1973′s 40th reunion – the first gathering since 1998 – plus invited guests from the Classes of 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1976 as well…

  • famhistory

    I planned the first family reunion for the Gillyard/Johnson/Mahoney (GJM) Family in 2004, and now we come together every other year for a weekend of memories, history, fun and fellowship.  The reunion has become a BIG production event, with all the pomp and circumstance of an established convention. We have an opening night affair which includes the reading of our Mission Statement and a processional with family members carrying Flags, a Banner, and a Bible. We make a request through our congressman’s office to have a U.S. flag flown over the U.S. capitol prior to the reunion. The flag is flown in memory of our ancestors. That flag is carried by a family veteran, during the processional. A family Bible and the Christian flag are carried by ministers; and an educator carries a textbook signifying that we value education. The family history is read, we sing our family song, light the family reunion candle and declare the family reunion as officially opened. The candle is extinguised at the end of Sunday Worship Services at the family’s church. Copies of  historical documents: birth, death, censuses, military, school, business transactions, land, etc. are on display throughout the reunion and the Family Historian is available to answer questions. 

    Where? The reunions are always held in northern Lousiana, namely Desoto and Caddo parishes.

    What activities do you do?  We spend time volunteering in the community the day before our official opening,  play table games, family talent shows, and family skits

    What has been the best experience you’ve had at a family reunion? Witnessing the family present their first GJM Family Reunion Scholarships, and witnessing the family members being pleased about taking part in a family health fair.

    What has been the worst experience you’ve had at a family reunion? I promised I would never tell.

    How difficult is it to get everyone to show up? VERY, VERY Difficult!   We average 150 people. If everyone showed up, we would have over 400.

    http://www.gillyard-johnson-mahoney.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/saffore.familyreunion Saffore- Scyffore FamilyReunio

    Congratulations on your decision to feature family reunions and connections.

    We just celebrated the 35th Saffore-Scyffore Annual Family Reunion.  We are very proud of our heritage of tradition and legacy of unity.  Our reunion celebration was founded by my maternal grandmother Othella B. Everitt-Scyffore.  My grandmother was raised
    with very limited family connection and involvement. Factually
    speaking, she was left by her mother with a very elderly couple.  The couple raised her into adulthood. Through her marriage union to Eli Scyffore
    (Saffore), ten children were born. She lovingly instilled a strong sense of unity, devotion and family loyalty to her children, their spouses and grandchildren.  Our family has three major geographical chapters, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Michigan.Does your extended family come together every year?  This is a very good question.  Our family reunion is an annual event.  We come together each year, and convene is cities all across the country.

    What activities do you do?  We plan a number of activities.  We always kickoff the reunion with a nice large “Meet and Greet” type of event.  There is always a lot of hugs and kisses to go around.  The next day is filled with excursion type of events, such as museum, aquarium, bowling, skating and sometimes a zoo event.  We have at least one event that celebrates our history and culture.  We share at least one meal each day, typically it’s the midday meal.  The third day starts with family worship and praise.  We attend a local church together, which always strengthens our bond.  The last and final day always includes a family reunion picnic and youth activities.  We have visited themes parks, water parks and traditional parks, but whatever we do, we do it with love and care for one another.

    We also bring food donations for our “Adopt a Family” project, and donations for care packages for our first year college students.  Education is a strong pillar of our heritage, so we started a family scholarship and education fund.  We provide books to all school age children, celebrate school promotions and graduations, in addition to providing a scholarship stipend to all first year college students.

    What has been the best/worst experience you’ve had at a family reunion?  It’s difficult to choose just one “best” experience, because our reunions are filled with amazing experiences, but I would have to say, seeing my cousins after multiple tours of duty and Iraq and Afghanistan would top the list for me.  I really cannot share a “worse” experience, because everything always seem to work out, because we pull together.

    Are you the planner? How difficult is it to get everyone to show up?  Yes, I am the planner in chief.  At times, it can be very difficult to get everyone on the same page, but we always make it.  Attendance can be a challenge, so we work hard to make it affordable, and encourage prior planning and fund raising.  Yes, we fund raise. 

    In all, I hope and pray your listeners will be encouraged to start their own family celebrations, and build on the connections that are present.  FAMILY, is one of God’s Masterpieces.

    Niko M. Cook
    Chairperson
    Saffore-Scyffore Family Reunion
    safforescyfforefamilyreunion@yahoo.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/j.krollhollister Jennie Kroll Hollister

    Kroll Family Reunion
    This was our second family reunion in 4 years.  All descendants of Barnett and Rose Kroll this past weekend.  Our  matriarch is 79 of the first cousins.  We looked at pictures and told stories and had a wonderful time reconnecting.http://TomMills.zenfolio.com/p225753870/e6764d11e

  • YiTom

    The Un family Reunion

    Our Family immigrated to the United States in ’72 from South Korea.  Slowly, my parents sponsored family members to join us in the US.  At one point we had 14 people living in a 4 bedroom, 3 baths, 2 cars house hold.

    We survived (smile) and now we are a family of 3 generations comprised o Koreans, Americans, Vietnamese, Chinese and Laotian.

    The original reunion was to celebrate our 20th year in the United States.  This was organized by my “big” Uncle. [In Korean tradition, we don't call our uncles by name but by position.  In this case, he is my first uncle on my mothers side so hence "big" uncle]

    Since then we have had family reunions at major life events, i.e. weddings, graduations and the like.  Another occasion, for a reunion, is called Hwangab.  This is the 60th birthday of an elder.  In the past, living to the ripe old age of 60 was a great feat in Korea.  Not so much in the US but we still keep this tradition.

    For each elder that attains the age of 60, their child/ren organize and plan the reunion.

    This year my 2nd uncle turn 60 and my cousin, Bora, organized the reunion in Orlando, FL..  The attached photo is from that reunion.

    Also, here is a video from the reunion:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cy-INR2VfUk&feature=youtu.be

    As you can see, it’s a time for all loved ones to get together and have a great time!

    The best part about these reunions is that the newer generations get to learn from the older generations and incorporate these traditions into their lives!!  We will continue to celebrate Hwangab for the second generations and on into the future!  Who knows, as we become an even more of a “melting pot” what other traditions we will learn about.

    A slight downside is that not every year we have a “life” event but I think that adds a little bit more meaning to each time we do gathering!

    Thanks for this topic and thanks for letting us share with you!

    Tom

    • YiTom

      Tee from 2013 Un Reunion

  • YiTom

    Images from 2013 Un Reunion

  • rjf7r

    Although our family was established in 1920, we didn’t have the first official reunion until 6 years ago, 2007:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/rjf7r/sets/72157602155433097/

    Our next reunion is this weekend, August 3!

    Our family is blessed to own a private resort with a lake, and it makes a great place for a reunion.  We are always amazed that our two immigrant grandparents managed to achieve so much in their brief 23 years together in the US.

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