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From the Green Valley News, Friday 6 July 2007, page A13

Genealogy Today, by Betty Malesky

Connect at a Family Reunion

This month I plan to attend the 42nd Annual Gant Family Reunion in Ravenna, Ohio. My fatherís family began this annual celebration after my Grandfather Gantís death in January 1966. Fourth and even some fifth generation descendants of my Grandfather will attend this year.

If your family has never had a reunion, itís too late for this summer. The key to a successful family reunion is planning and now is the time to begin planning for next summer. All it takes is for someone [you, for instance] to take charge and coordinate the affair. Contact other family members and assign tasks so no one person [you, again] feels overwhelmed.

One of my cousins has wooded acreage south of Cleveland, an ideal spot for the annual picnic complete with food, horseshoes, softball, more food, poker and an opportunity to catch up on family gossip. If no relative has a large enough home or yard to accommodate 50 or 100 people, your celebration might be held in a convenient park, resort, or hotel meeting room.

Pick a central point for your reunion well-situated to the majority of family members. Most of the Gant family except me still lives within a dayís drive of Cleveland. In exchange for each familyís $8.00 donation, my cousin provides beverages, table service, and a meat dish, usually barbecue, grilled hamburgers and hot dogs with all the trimmings. Each family also brings a salad or side dish and my aunt makes her special strawberry cream sheet cake for dessert. Food could be catered but would increase the cost per family.

Our family reunion provides an opportunity for me to update my records of current family members. I take genealogy charts and often write and share brief sketches of memorable or interesting ancestors Iíve discovered. Younger family members enjoy hearing how their ancestors fit in the context of history. Hopefully one or more in the younger generations will some day want to carry on the research Iíve begun, because the family story is never finished.

Genealogist George G. Morgan has written an excellent book, Your Family Reunion: How to Plan It, Organize It, and Enjoy It, available on for as little as $9.99. Another aid is Reunion Magazine published five times a year for $3.00 a copy or $9.99 annually. The Reunions Workbook accompanies a one-year subscription with tips such as how to recruit helpers and even your successor to plan the next reunion. The magazine is online at

The best part of a reunion is connecting with family members you see only once a year. Itís a chance to form new relationships and restore old ones, share stories from the past and plans for the future, and to take pictures to illustrate that family history you plan to write one day.

Begin to think about how you can get your family members together next year. If the thought of a large family reunion scares you, start small with core family members in the oldest generation or the cousins in your generation.

Genealogy is all about family. Too often we get stuck in the past and forget about the current generations. Todayís descendants are tomorrowís ancestors. A family reunion helps to create a bond between family members that will insure your family history continues.

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