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Family reunions that bring the extended family together celebrates legacy. It connects us and helps us reunite as family. We catch up on personal history that adds to the collective history. We share memories that keep us linked. These times also help children realize they are part of something larger and united with people who support them. They have a broader network held together with love.
Cousins, aunts, uncles, and others meet up and rejoice over new members added through birth, adoption, or marriage. Often one person may be the key organizer who pulls everyone together.
My home is the place our family gathers in December. There’s a dinner where the most people show up and a game day where many come to play and laugh.
Over the years I’ve also enjoyed a larger gathering on another side of the family that’s usually held outdoors with room for dozens of relatives to come. There’s security of knowing the past and the hope of looking forward to the future and dreams of the younger generations.
In the past families usually lived near one another, but modern families are more scattered yet share the same family history with a permanent connection. The gatherings provide an opportunity to remember what’s special about being part of the family tree.
8. Family Meals
Food is often the center of relationships. The family meal is a mainstay of a nuclear family that keeps the members united even if it only lasts about twenty minutes. The repetitive action of sitting together, sharing food, and conversing holds many benefits.
Families who begin meals with prayers also connect their faith to ordinary life. Menus that include individual and family favorites show love and acceptance. When parents engage children in discussion of their days, struggles, and accomplishments, that deepens the family bonds. Positive communication demonstrates concern, support, and empathy. Some families have a special plate they put out to celebrate one member and make that person a center of attention.
Meals can be ways of making the day special. During the coronavirus, my friends, the Bridwell family, made dinners occasions with themes that inspired elaborate centerpieces and costumes. They held picnics in the living room and tailgate parties in the kitchen too.
Turning a meal into an extravaganza or family fun night turns an ordinary meal into a memorable event and enriches our lives. A meal can become the highlight of the day and a way to deepen bonds. A meal is also the perfect setting to plan trips, activities, and other future times of bonding.
Bonding takes place whenever we connect and engage in conversation or play that brings us closer. The benefits last and reach into the next generation.
Karen Whiting is a mother of five and grandmother of twelve who love getting together. She’s the author of 26 books, a former TV host, and an international speaker and writing coach. Karen Whiting writes to helps families thrive. Her latest family devotional 52 Weekly Devotions for Families Called to Serve helps develop servant hearts in children and build family traditions.
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