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Verb: The act of relaxing in a cozy cabin in the woods.

The New River Gorge National Park

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Gorgeous weddings in The New River Gorge

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Making memories.

How Not to Have “The Family Reunion from HELL!”

I am planning for my family to arrive in June. This is a true story and is happening as we speak. Okay, we are not technically speaking, but you know what I mean. Or did you?

That is the really challenge at the heart of a family reunion: communication. Even though everyone in my family speaks English as a first and only language, getting them all on the same page is like herding cats with a pressure washer. If you are lucky it is very exciting and rewarding for a brief moment, but the overall effort is usually futile.

Our fabulous Facebook group page

Here are a few things we are learning (this time around):

Practice makes perfect. We do not plan a family reunion on a regular basis and it shows. Those families that we see here at OCR who make an annual or biannual tradition out of it have the advantage. Expectations have been managed through repetition.

I hate to say this, but someone has to be the point person. This seems to work best if there can be several point people, actually. Food, Lodging, Group activities; all of this must be arranged. Ultimately, someone has to be large and in charge. Personally, I love chaos and mayhem, especially when they show up together! So for me not knowing who is cooking dinner and what it will be are not big questions. But others’ happiness depends on knowing every detail long before it happens, like what type napkins will be in the dinner roll baskets at each meal. So you’ve got to plan.

Knowing the differences that make people tick is helpful because it allows everyone to get the details they need. A Google doc spreadsheet is a great place for all this to evolve. Remember, not everyone will feel safe entering info in this format and you’ll need another method for them to get ideas out to the group.

Also, we are using a Facebook group page and it has been great. It makes for wonderful conversations taking place before the event even kicks off. Still, some folks will not bring certain things up until they confer with others in the group. This helps put things in place that may have otherwise been overlooked, such as who is driving Grama? Because last time she farted and ruined my new car seat…..

We all need to spend more time with those crazy people we are linked to by family ties. Reunions are the perfect way to do just that. But remember, planning is key

I will report back as we get closer to our own event and during said festivities. Until then remember: women are a bowl of spaghetti and men are waffles.


  • Chrissi says:

    Geoffrey, thanks for not naming names!! And thanks for seeing the humorous side of all of this chaos and mayhem coming your way! It can’t get here soon enough, it won’t last long enough, but the memories we have from our great time at OCR will go on and on! Thanks so much for providing such a beautiful backdrop for our reunion. Love.

  • Kari Heeter Clark says:

    Dude. I’m telling mom!!!!!

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