(Serves one14-Branch Family)
Step One. Two years prior, two branches of the 14-branch family agree to get together to share their "turn" at planning the biannual event, and then promptly forget about it for almost two years. Although there are ten siblings/cousins in this combined branch, it falls on five who live in the vicinity to make the arrangements. We'll call these five the Teacher, the Caterer, the Left-Handed One, the Writer, and the Beautiful One.
Step Two: The youngest of these five, the Beautiful One, initiates the first planning meeting at the insistence of the older generation who are beginning to panic. When the appointed day arrives, however, neither the weather nor the general health of the others cooperates and the meeting is postponed. Meanwhile, one entire branch goes off to Maui for a wonderful 9-day family reunion of its own. The Teacher goes to Guatemala on an English-teaching stint for a month. The remaining one, The Writer, stoically stays home to suffer the ravages of Manitoba in March. The Writer is not bitter.
Step Three: A new date is set for the planning meeting. The older generation is now in full-blown panic mode. So the five cousins/sisters converge on the home of the Beautiful One.
Step Four: The five cousins/sisters proceed to catch up with one another's lives. Photos from Maui are passed around, hilarious and heartwarming stories are shared involving lost teeth and long lost family members. Numbers and ages of grandchildren are exchanged. Clearly, the reunion planning meeting is a reunion in itself. The Left-Handed One takes charge and keeps drawing us back to our purpose.
Step Five: A sixth cousin/sister who has agreed to be available by telephone is called. She has not kept her word, however, so a smart-alecky message is left on her answering machine putting her in charge of pretty much everything. The laughter she hears in the background will put her at ease. We hope.
Step Six: Plans forge ahead. The Beautiful One calls the campground, digs through the box labeled "Family Reunion" and counts the money in the event kitty.
Step Seven: The Caterer volunteers to organize the wiener roast and bring a large canopy tent.
Step Eight: The Teacher agrees to make phone calls and get the word out; she will also organize a photo-print run on the day of the reunion.
Step Nine: The Writer offers to organize the silent auction, which provides funds for the next reunion.
Step Ten: The Left-Handed one has a great idea to release helium balloons in memory of those who have passed. She will organize this.
Step Eleven: A couple of phone calls are made to the older generation to set their minds at ease. The reunion will happen after all.
Step Twelve: The Writer takes it upon herself to blog about the planning meeting experience because you never know when it might be helpful for others.
And that, friends, is how it's done. Good luck with yours!