“Summer summer summertime….”
More than just a song, it’s an ANTHEM.
Summertime for Black families is the primetime for fellowship. The parade of colorful shirts donning a family crest and/or themed celebrations of annual Black Family Reunions make our summers a magical time for reconnection: both to one another and with our roots. The historical legacy of Black families being forcefully separated invites a special and almost sacred covering over Black Family Reunions. With many families spread throughout the US due to a myriad of reasons, such as the Great Migration, reconvening around music, food, while reminiscing and creating memories, strengthen the legacy of Black Families around America.
With COVID still rampant, it has affected the ability of families to reunite with one another. Black Family Reunions are where we engage in the tradition of honoring the living legends of the family, welcoming in the newest members of the lineage, and creating familial memories. With reunions serving as an opportunity to connect with extended relatives and the elders of the family, some of which may not be alive by the time the next reunion, Black families are grappling with the stress of cancelled plans, and uninspired alternatives.
While nothing compares to the actual lived experience of cutting it up on the dance floor during the electric slide, spades tournament, or your grandmother’s Sock-It-To-Me cake, I want to provide 5 Ways to Redefine Your Family Reunion with your immediate family, or socially distanced with extended family, and still honor the very essence of what the Black Family Reunion encompasses.
5 Ways to Redefine Your Family Reunion
- JAM OUT: Listen to Your Favorite reunion classics and have a dance party. Think of your favorite family memory, and I bet there’s a song associated with it. I know it’s not the same as doing the swag surf with your cousins, but hosting a dance party to your favorite reunion tunes, is a great way of still connecting to the overall vibe. No worries if you don’t have a playlist, you can check out the Your Favorite Reunion Hits playlist on Spotify HERE.
- COOK OUT: Host your own cooking competitions with reunion dishes as the theme, to see who wins the title of Top Chef in the family. It is time to settle the, “Who makes the best potato salad” argument with a cooking competition! I love cooking shows like Chopped and Top Chef, and seriously, what better way to still indulge in reunion favorites, but with an exciting spin? Create 3 rounds consisting of Appetizers, Entrees, and Desserts, with a final round naming the Top Chef. BONUS: This is an awesome opportunity to teach unique family recipes to the younger generation.
- CHECK IN: Create a family newsletter or yearbook that highlights recent changes, and current updates within the family. This is a perfect opportunity to exercise a bit of creativity by creating a tangible memento that can be distributed to extended members of the family. You can use Shutterfly, Walgreens, and CVS to create a photobook album, or use your preferred computer program to create a newsletter. Request that each family member send in their content (pictures and updates) and compile it all together. This method allows everyone the ability to “check-in” and feel connected.
- GAME TIME: Have a family game night! If you want to go the extra mile, turn your game night into a tournament, that incorporates team-building challenges. A big part of the reunion is having FUN, even though relationships can be tested with a Draw 4. A family game night allows you to reconnect and enjoy each other’s presence for the simple purpose of bonding. A simple and fun filled game to play over Zoom is Family Feud. Click HERE for the instructions, and HERE for the game format.
- STORY TIME: Go down memory lane and share your favorite family, and reunion memories. The legacy of Oral storytelling has been the foundation of Black history being passed down from generation to generation. By sharing memories from previous reunions, and overall family moments, you and yours can reclaim the power of paying homage to the ancestors, by partaking in the oldest method of recording family history. Andrea Collier says it best, “Storytelling is our roots and wings. I know that black folk, no matter how they got here, are planted in story and shared lived experience. It’s the way we witness.”
Even though COVID has impacted the ability for many families to physically convene, there are still ways in which families can connect. Black families are resilient and this is no different.
Here’s to not letting COVID cancel family, and redefining your reunion. Don’t forget: Be safe, wear your mask, wash your hands, and maintain a distance of 6 feet.
Let me know what you and yours decide to do in the comment section!
Your Favorite MFT