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REELING IN A WHALE OF A FAMILY REUNION

By Mary E. Petty

“Car horns are blaring, picnic baskets brimming, the sun is a blazing, and we’ve got a 3 hour ride ahead of us to this year’s hot spot- The Annual Fest of Love, our Family Reunion!!!” Can’t you just picture that Norman Rockwell scene with the whole “fam” crammed into the “van” plus Fido. Then horror of horrors, as you pull out of sight of the ol’ corral, you remember your assignment from last year! It was to bring to this year’s reunion all those family pictures taken off of G’ma Wilda’s Picture Wall right after she died four years ago, that are still stuffed in boxes along with her diaries and recipes in one of the attic cubbies, and the old-fashioned, long- yellowed 1920-1940′s family group sheets written in G’ma Emma Melissa’s BYU Academy coup de plume. UGH!!!! Just how do they expect you to remember all that when you’ve got to pack up the car for threee long days of togetherness with the Clan!!!!!

Done that! Been there! This year’s reunion is going to be different! It’s now the beginning of March, and we have at least four months to make sure the dog food gets packed and all the kids and pictures get loaded into the car, with the family treasures safely assembled and ready for sharing. How do we go about it? That is the big question.

Now as professional genealogists, we eat, breathe and sleep genealogy. Someone else’ s names are always coming to us in the middle of the night. We have gone to about a bigillion family reunions. And believe me, we have seen it all and done it all. We have experienced the good, the bad and the ugly, (no green jello) as well as the good, the true and the beautiful (a talent show sung on key) when it comes to family reunions. But we live in the best of times, because the computer was created ,not only for it’s crunching ways to save on our taxes, but for the big explosive interest in doing family history. This means we have the wonderful worldwide web to help us get organized, get ready and to come prepared to our family reunion. The virtual reality of the Internet can give us all sorts of clues on how to make this year’s experience memorable, like a fish and a tied-fly in a feeding frenzy with you holding the rod.

For starters, let’s go to GOOGLE and type in the key words: family reunion helps. Got one! A great free site comes up: www.family-reunion.com. If you are at all involved with the planning and organization of the Big Event, this site is sure to have some valuable helps. From where to hold the cheapest get-away gatherings (the cemetery) to a free newsletter where your reunion memories can be shared with the world, Mr Spiffy will help you hold the Perfect Family Reunion.

Next strike and you are hooked by www.genealogy.about.com/cs/familyreunions/. Click on Family Reunion in the Subject index to find Kimberly Powell recommendation for Family Reunion Organizer. At $29.95 this helpful software program puts everything down in the computer for those of us that just love the day planner approach but didn’t inherit G’ma Emma Melissa’s calligraphy talents.(Translation: can’t read my own writing because the Doctor Sumner Gleason, MD genes dominate my DNAscript.)

For those tempted to procrastinate and not throw in the fly because you’ve never done such sophisticated fishing for family fun, catch a load of George Morgan’s article “Stop Procrastinating! Organize your Family Reunion…” found at www.ancestry.com/library/view/columns/george/5697 (If the link is dead, look in Genealogy Help and search in the Library for the word, “procrastinating”.) This man gives you hope that this year you will land the big one.

Don’t forget to toss a line into www.reunionplanner.com for its LDS family reunion resources. Along with www.familysearch.org and www.lds.org you are sure to find help here in being fishers of men.

www.genealogy.com in their Learning Center and www.genealogyforum.com in Reunions offer more than a nibble of resources for successful family reunion planning. And for games and stories that will snag the most reluctant of participants, go to www.stretcher.com/stories/980625c.cfm . Remember, family reunions are supposed to be a whale of fun and love. You are supposed to catch happy memories and these sites all have great ideas on “what to do” that will fill your fishing nets with record-making experiences at your next family reunion.

And for stuffing and preserving those memories, try making a family reunion Heritage Book or family calendar as described in www.wedesignwebsites.com/FamilyCalendar/family_reunion_book.htm

No family get together should happen without a permanent trophy to remind everyone of the big haul of memories.

And for some real exotic down-under fishing for ideas on family reunions, go to http://archiver.rootsweb.com/th/read/AUSTRALIA/2002-05/1021036556 . Here I found the catch of the day www.reunionsmag.com, the perfect fishing hole for information filling your family reunion cooler.

Using the Internet, you can reel in a boatload of ideas and helps that will make this summer’s Family Reunion picture perfect and no fish story. Other searches to fill your creel can be made with: family reunion help; LDS family reunion; family reunion; family reunion planning; and so on until you have your fillet of ideas. You will have happy memories pouring over the side because you remembered and shared with loved ones those special diaries where G’ma Wilda wrote down her first carrot cake recipes when she was only sweet 16. Everyone will want one of Gma Emma’s handwritten pedigree charts or family group sheets that have been hiding out under a rock in the attic. And you and your family will be able to sit around the campfires in years to come, swapping stories about the one Family Reunion that didn’t get away.