• Helen Gregory

Get-togethers are a real family affair

At a recent family reunion, it was great to see children chatting to some of the older family members who were reminiscing about their experiences growing up.

Over tea and cake on a sunny afternoon, three generations enjoyed meeting to catch up on the gossip, laugh, remember and commiserate – particularly after the enforced separation of lockdown.

While modern technology has made it easy to stay in touch with far-flung family members, our contact can often just be a case of liking their social media post or an occasional Zoom call. And older people often miss out on this altogether. In our hectic everyday lives, it’s hard to schedule time with our immediate family, while scheduling time with extended family is even more difficult. Despite our best intentions, these get-togethers can often seem too daunting to arrange, so that years go by and we find it’s only the weddings and funerals that physically bind us together.

Setting aside a few hours of quality time with our nearest and dearest is good for us all as it helps us connect with our roots, celebrate family accomplishments, and to feel bonded with those we love and share a history with. A family reunion is a great opportunity for children to see how they're the continuation of older generations; they can feel cared for and connected to a wider circle of people - they might even find some new positive role models in their extended family.

From children hearing stories about their forgotten relatives, to trying recipes that have been passed down over the years, our family reunions help us reaffirm our sense of identity and belonging. The very act of a reunion is a way to create new memories for all of us, whatever age.

A reunion is also a perfect time for family members to share photos or documents to help build a family tree or history book. The next time you manage to get everyone together, why not ask relatives to bring copies of family photos or mementos to share which can help preserve aspects of your family’s past for future generations. These can be a great way to kick-start your life story book, sparking memories of people and events you might have forgotten. So, get baking, pick up the phone and put a date in your diary. You’ll be glad you did.