Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.
Getting your relatives together for the holidays can be a challenge, especially if you live far away or if there’s been some family drama. Planning a family reunion during this time of year can be a great opportunity to reconnect with your family, regardless of the situation. Bringing people together to share stories and reminisce over holiday meals can be the best way to mend bridges and create new memories.
No matter how your family will be celebrating the holidays, there are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure that the reunion is cheerful and bright.
Start Planning Now
If you’re the host, it’s best to start your planning now. The end of the year is busy for everyone, and with people’s various schedules and commitments, it might take longer than you expect to agree on a specific day and make sure that travel arrangements are settled.
Start planning by introducing the idea of a holiday family reunion to your close family members and get their suggestions on how to best bring everyone together. Come up with a game plan so everyone knows how they can contribute and what they need to do to make the reunion work.
Find the Right Location
Some estranged family members may find that they don’t want to visit a relative’s home for the holidays. They may feel trapped or surrounded in a situation that they don’t necessarily welcome or look-forward to being in. If you want to reconnect with distant relatives, consider a third party venue that can host everyone, such as a restaurant or community center. A safe, neutral location may well encourage those who are otherwise hesitant to join.
A family reunion brings together a lot of different personalities. You might disagree with some relatives on major topics, but you try to keep an open mind by listening to what they have to say and understanding their perspective. Sometimes the best thing you can do to improve your family relationships is to hear what they have to say. You don’t have to agree with everyone on everything, but you can look to find the middle ground.
Keep It Positive By Sharing Memories And Stories
It’s a good idea to leave family or personal problems at the door. Let your family reunion be about connecting with each other, sharing positive stories that help build relationships and asking questions to better get to know your relatives. Encourage people to share fond childhood memories, especially those that involve multiple family members.
Should I Reconnect With All My Family Members?
When you’ve fallen out of touch with family and decide to reconnect, you may think that they’ll be inspired by the spirit of the season and be happy to hear from you. While this could be the case, you don’t know for sure that your invitation will be welcomed or eagerly received.
Before reaching out to a relative, take a moment to think whether now is an appropriate time to be reaching out to that person. Are the issues that led to your disconnect still relevant? If the underlying issues haven’t been resolved, you may want to initiate a low-pressure conversation to mend old wounds before you invite them to celebrate the holidays with you.
If you do feel that your family member would be open to attending but you don’t have their contact information, look them up on social media or run a public records search to track down their most recent address, phone number, or email address. Once you’ve reopened the door to communication, you’ll be on your way to a happy holiday reunion.