The state of the reunion

Sunday’s New York Times story on family reunions brought out all the negatives and cautioned “how to make the best of it,” quoting experts at the Family Reunion Institute. Which made us ask, “So if they’re so awful, why are more and more people planning these get-togethers?”

The answer — from our perspective here at the Inn where we see family reunions all season long (and where we’ve designed spaces like the interconnecting rooms in the Lodges to make it easy for extended families to spread out) – is, “Because they’re so much fun!”

Scrolling through the mental photo album of our own family memories (“made in Maine”) we recall the times we talked late into the night with a newly-rediscovered cousin. That last walk on the beach with Dad. My grandfather in his bathing suit, reading the Sunday paper in the sun on the deck. We remember dinner parties with lots of laughter and some truly spectacular food. Reminding the city sister how to play croquet.

And what’s so different between these memories that sound like great family times, shared together and The Family Reunion? Nothing! That’s the point!

They’re still memories filled with a mix of personal experiences shared with one or two members of the family as well as inclusive group extravaganzas where everyone seems to be talking at once and there’s lots of kidding (“remember when you…?”) and fodder for future years.

The surveys say people crave more time to spend with their families. They say the secret to shaping shared memory out of disparate interests and moods is to find settings with lots of options for individual pursuits AND opportunities to come back together to share what you’ve discovered with the people who care about you most.

Whether it’s four or forty people, it’s the coming back together that re-unions are all about.