Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My great big Mormon family reunion!!!

For the sake of having a fun story to blog, we should have had an embarrassing disaster or at least some awkward discussions of religion. But for the sake of the family, I'm glad the whole thing went smoothly -- more than smoothly, even -- fantastically!!

This isn't even everybody.

It's all the more astonishing because we had 67 people in attendance (out of the 98 descendants + S.O.s of my Mormon grandparents). It may not sound like much, but 67 is a lot of people. And these folks are normally spread all across North America and the whole world -- and most hadn't seen each other since the last reunion, 10 years ago. Some were new, and were meeting the extended family for the first time.

As for religion, about half of the adults in my generation (my siblings and first cousins) are former-Mormon or never-Mormon, and about half are believing/practicing Mormons. But as far as I could tell, neither side was judgmentally looking down on the other or trying to impose one set of beliefs and practices on the whole group. Our family absolutely came first -- before any kind of ideology -- because we genuinely wanted to see each other and reaffirm and reestablish our family relationshps.

Personally, I wanted to facilitate building memories for all the kids who are too young to have attended the last reunion so that the cousins wouldn't just be "some people my mom and dad know" to them. And I think this goal was passed with flying colors.

The religion question never took center stage. The time and address of the services of the CoJCoL-dS were listed on the schedule, as well as an alternate gathering at the amusement park of the Mall of America (some of the faithful opted for the latter). There were also some (pretty tame) evening drinking parties -- including one at my parents' house! And there was a huge, fun talent show in which all the kids really hammed it up!

My "talent" was designing this fab reunion T-shirt

The day after the extended family left (and we were down to my own parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews), we had a big family meal that began -- in traditional Mormon style -- with a prayer. It was at that moment that it hit me that we hadn't had a single whole-group prayer for the entire reunion. This is kind of unusual for a Mormon family gathering: normally some meal would have a prayer or some event would open or close with a group prayer, even if some of the members of the group are not believers.

Yellow team rules!!

This is partially because my nevermo sister-in-law did all of the leg-work to organize all of the venues, all the food, all the financial accounting, etc., and made sure (through delegation or, if necessary, doing it herself) that everything that needed to get done got done. And she didn't have any particular reason to schedule in any group prayers.

It's also partially because there were so many people (including so many little kids) that it is hard to get everyone to quiet down and be reverent for a prayer. Some big Mormon families would manage it, but you have to really want it in order to manage it, and this group was more focused on making everyone feel welcome and comfortable.

This is everybody.


Donna Banta said...

It's great that you all get along so well! Also awesome tee shirts.

Paul Sunstone said...

Those T shirts rock!

Glad to hear things went so well.

Unknown said...

Just wanted to say that I LOVE the T-shirt art!
How inspired!
And the best thing is, when you meet someone else in the family (or someone new to the family) you can point to one of the dots and say - that's me!

C. L. Hanson said...


I even got a sheet of small star-shaped stickers for everyone to put on their dots. The kids loved it!!

John Hamer said...

The tshirts, the reunion, and the family were all fantastic. Great recap!