Monday, July 9, 2012

A Near Perfect Reunion

After planning a family reunion for the last several months, and seeing it carried it out last weekend, I've made a mental note of key things to factor in if I ever plan another one.

*  GOOD HELPERS
I have to say that having good, willing helpers was a major part of the success of the reunion. I wish I had captured more photos of people stepping in and lending a helping hand. There were a select few that really went above and beyond helping out. It was greatly appreciated.
(I must point out the same shirts in the above photos that weren't the reunion shirts. A few of the men had on the same shirts and it sure confused a few reunion attendees.)

*  REUNION SHIRTS
I couldn't help but smile each time I saw somebody new had put on their reunion shirt. It made the long hours  of reunion planning all the more worth it. I know matching t-shirts aren't for everyone, but it just felt inclusive and heart-warming to see so many branches of a family tree together in one place wearing the same shirt.
*  A GREAT LOCATION
Pretty much due to popular demand, we repeated the same location as the 2006 reunion. Family members from Utah, California and Arizona gathered at Cherry Hill to camp, play in the water, and enjoy being together. I continue to be touched by the financial effort and time from work so many from out of state put into attending the reunion. Hundreds of dollars in gas, travel expenses and time off of work to be with extended family. A wonderful example of devotion to family ties.

*  FUN IN THE SUN
Seeing my children spend so much time with extended cousins touched my heart for hours during the day on Saturday. My children's grandparents and cousins weren't in the water much, and I was so glad for how much time they spent with their AZ cousins. Earlier in the day, I overheard someone telling their children about 2nd and 3rd cousins. That doesn't matter to me. "Numbers" don't mean anything. Relationships do. I love so many of our dear extended cousins.
Some people would have preferred a one-day visit together at a park. But those don't work as well in my opinion. Families stick with families initially--yet 2-3 days spent together really makes for some wonderful bonding and memories for each branch to reach out to others.
* A FEW SPECIFIC ACTIVITIES
For the most part, family reunions are about visiting together. And too often at parties I throw I try to be too rigid and scheduled about activities. Mike has helped me see the benefits of "letting things be" and so with this reunion, very little was scheduled. Of course a few activities thrown in for kids was a guarantee.
* A NON-TALENT SHOW
Of course being a "married-in" Sowby, I haven't spent a lifetime attending these reunions. Yet, I have heard enough about the once-upon-a-time-talent-show portion of them to know that few are broken-hearted they didn't continue over time. I myself am not a fan at all of talent shows. Now a variety show, is fine by me. But no stuffy talents please at a family reunion. A "get-to-know you introduction" was all that was necessary at this one.
(I wish I'd have gotten a picture of all of the "introductions."
*BONDING
As I snapped the below top photo of three cousins all the same age, who with one other cousin used to hang around together at family reunions as young children, I couldn't help but smile that as soon as I snapped the picture, I turned and saw the bottom photo scene. From one generation to the next... Why oh why do some think reunions should die away?
(Cousins Amber, Karla Ann and Karena)
(Cousins Cheyenne, Sienna and Megan, Cousins Chevy, Ryan and Sarah)

* A GOOD NAP
Not that I would know anything about a nap at this reunion. But fortunately for some, napping was possible.
Hmmm-it would appear that Mike got more than one nap in. Not that I was counting or anything. As for Drew, he can take as many naps as he'd like.
(Mike, Drew, Joshua, Cousin George)

*  TWO BOYS, ONE NAME
If you didn't think our Luke Sowby was enough for the world. There is one more. A darling little one from CA. So fun!
*  BIKES
It was fabulous to have a plethora of bikes to choose from at any given time. Whether it was a run to the garbage can, the bathroom, or the water slides. The bikes were a big hit.
* FAVORITES
I could spend hours more putting up every single photo from the reunion, but I can't and shouldn't. Some of my favorite memories really weren't captured with a camera anyways. 
*A LITTLE MISCELLANEOUS
*  A SENSE OF HUMOR
Definitely a necessity. Too bad I didn't have one about more things... Least I can laugh about how awful I must have looked while... what? Bossing everyone around? Not that I'd ever do anything like that.
Oh Heaven help us all!

* A LEGACY
In 2006 I planned the last Sowby reunion in Utah (very similarly to this one). As the weekend ended in 2006, I felt a bond with George Isaac and Annie Martine Sowby.  Though both passed away before my lifetime, let alone before I myself became a Sowby, I couldn't help but feel of their spirit as I watched their descendants gather together both in 2006 and last week. I really can't describe my feelings. So I'm not going to anymore. They're too personal and spiritual to attempt to share.
Megan really went to town making this big poster board to display. Luke was absolutely fascinated when a few days before the reunion I told him that the cousins he would see at the reunion had the same great-great-great grandpa as his that he did the ancestor essay about last spring. (You can read it HERE or HERE.) My children loved seeing that from (the star of Luke's essay) Isaac Sowersby came George Isaac and then all the reunion attendees. What a marvelous gathering!
(Some, but not all of the 85 total reunion attendees.)
Despite the handful of things that put a little damper on the weekend, I would do it all over again. It was worth it. I'm a pretty nice cousin in-law to have done this not once, not twice, but three times. 
Even if I do say so myself!


(And I can say that publicly, because really--is anyone still even reading this? That was A LOT of writing and photos to read/look through.)

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