Saturday, April 2, 2016
B is for Birthday cake
Bake a cake in honor of members of your birth family on their birthdays. As you serve dessert around the dinner table, share your memories of that person so that your family can get to know them prior to the reunion. It’s a wonderful way to continue celebrating each other though miles come between you!
This was actually something my sister Joan did when she lived far from home and her children were small and she was missing Mom and Dad (and us younger siblings too). There were enough of us that almost every month of the year had a birthday. She’d bake and decorate a cake and then tell her children and husband all about Grandpa, Grandma, sisters, brother, whoever had the birthday to celebrate while they were indulging in the sweets. There was also her husband’s side of the family to celebrate. I have a feeling they were eating a lot of cake!
I always really liked this idea. Being the baker I am, it’s just an excuse to create a really wonderful cake to have in the house (but not for long!), and it also ties family together with the sharing of family stories and history.
Find opportunities to talk to your children about your extended family prior to the reunion. You may want to be creative and brainstorm about other ways for your children to learn about their relatives. Perhaps you could pick one person at a time once a week for them to ask questions about. If there are cousins they haven’t seen in awhile, bring out the latest photo to show them. On wedding anniversaries, pull the photo album out of the closet or bring up the latest digital photos on your computer and share all about that couple’s wedding. Chances are there are some entertaining stories about the event, including some crazy photos of those bridesmaid dresses!
Do you have old letters (pre-email) that someone wrote to you while you were in college or at boarding school? Have your children read these aloud. It all just gives more opportunities to build a sense of connection to the family tree.
If someone in your family has spent time doing genealogy, share those records and any tales that have been uncovered in the process. There are always proud moments in family history as well as more shady, secretive things, but share them all depending on the child’s age. Show on a map what countries the family has come from, where people live now and where the reunion will be held.
Finally, create your own family tree and have your children fill in the spaces, again sharing fond memories and facts about each person. By the time the reunion comes around, your kids will be better informed, have a sense of where they came from and be able to match the face with the name and some history as well.
Let me know of any ideas you’ve come up with in the comments section. See you next time!