Family reunions and annual gatherings

12 posts / 0 new
Last post
ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299
Family reunions and annual gatherings

This is somewhat of a personal debate I wage with my alter ego every summer. Want to know how y'all feel about it.

If you have an annual family camping trip or vacation, should you be obligated to participate fully in the group activities, group meals, group clean-up, group prayers, etc. etc. etc.?????

What if it's your only time off the WHOLE summer? Should you put aside wanting to have family time (i.e., just you, hubby and kids) to satisfy a couple people's insistence that all 30 of you do just about everything together? Should you have to camp right beside them or is it okay to have your own spot further away? Is it alright to retreat for a few hours to read a book or take a nap or take the kids to the pool? What about the group meals? Totally acceptable to feed your own kids breakfast at 7 am rather than wait until everyone else who's on cooking duty to get their a$$es up and get 'breakfast' ready for everyone (consisting of pancakes with raw batter oozing out from the middle, warm juice and margarine instead of butter for those oh-so-yummy pancakes?)

Yes, highly personal, I suppose. But take it with a grain of salt. I've been trying to come up with ways to fake an injury so I don't have to participate. 2 years ago was a nicea reprieve since I had a broken toe and a huge laceration on my thumb that was all stitched up and splinted. Other than that, it seems like those of us who have young children do most of the work.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3189

Sounds like a nightmare. I'd come up with a reason not to go. . .any reason. And yes, you have the right to take care of your kids if they're up early and let everyone else deal with their own situation. We've always done that when we're with a large group, our kids are early risers.

Just tell them you have something contagious.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

"freddieflounder101" wrote:

Sounds like a nightmare. I'd come up with a reason not to go. . .any reason. And yes, you have the right to take care of your kids if they're up early and let everyone else deal with their own situation. We've always done that when we're with a large group, our kids are early risers.

Just tell them you have something contagious.

lol...That would just be a reason for me to have to cook INSIDE. Smile Seriously, DH's grandmother is 94. If she goes, everybody goes. She's the family matriarch and doesn't tolerate what may or may not be going on in other people's lives. When she summons the family to gather, they gather. DH's cousin's wife and I call each other the 'outlaws', not the inlaws. Wink We're the only ones not singing Johnny Appleseed before group meals. Seriously, they all sing Johnny Appleseed in a huge circle. Then there's the nightly campfire. It's in this itty bitty firepit and by the time you get everyone sitting around it the circle of lawn chairs is about 30 feet in diameter. Yeah....nice 'warm' fire.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

I think especially if there is like 30 people there, it is totally reasonable (and should in fact be expected) that individual groups come and go according to their needs/interests/et cetera. I also think you should be free to care for your own family as need be, so for example if your family is up and hungry at 7, there is no reason you should have to wait to eat with everyone else if you don't want to.

I've never been on a big family camping trip like that, but every couple of summers my mom's family comes to visit us in CO for about a week (talking about a total group of about 18 people including me and my family.) The way it usually shakes out is that there are a couple of outings throughout the week that we all try to do together, and then aside from that different groups plan different things. For example, my family and my cousin's family are the only two with small children, so we do what we need to do to get the kids down for naps, outings that are kid friendly, et cetera. There are a group of us including my husband, myself, my cousins, and my brother and sister in law that are all in our twenties and thirties, so once or twice we may plan a night out together while the grandparents stay home and visit and watch the kids. And so on. Breakfast and lunch are typically "whoever is there and wants to eat is welcome to" but we try to eat dinners together. And if anyone needs to go off and have some family time or alone time, or whatever, that's not a big deal. I always enjoy our family get togethers, I think in part because they are low pressure and laid back.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6561

DH's family has a annal family gathering. It is not camping though. How it works is that breakfast and lunch are on your own, dinner is all together. Each family is assigned one evening that it is your turn to cook for the rest of the group (About 35 people). If you wanted to take a nap or do something just your family that would be fine. If you spent all of your time in your room or were not sociable you would get talked about.

While a beach vacation is very nice, it was a little hard on me this year. DH wanted to spend all his time with his brothers and sisters. I understood that he only gets to see them once a year, but we payed $500 to be staying in a really nice cottage on the beach. I though it was reasonable that he spend some time with just us, but he did not agree. It was especially hard that we were there over our 10 year wedding anniversary (we celebrated just us before we went) and he did not come to bed until after I was already asleep. His family would have understood if we went out that evening and there was plenty of free babysitting but he did not want to.

I think there is tension any time you have an in-law situation. I would totally feed my kids when they first woke up though and take a nap when needed.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

DH's family has a annal family gathering. It is not camping though. How it works is that breakfast and lunch are on your own, dinner is all together. Each family is assigned one evening that it is your turn to cook for the rest of the group (About 35 people). If you wanted to take a nap or do something just your family that would be fine. If you spent all of your time in your room or were not sociable you would get talked about.

ITA with this! I've never been on as large of a group deal as that, but one year MIL (and her husband, who is now her ex) took the whole family to Monterey, there was at least a dozen of us. We basically took over a bed & breakfast, we had five of their eight rooms! MIL made reservations for the group for dinner three of the five nights, and she took us all to the aquarium one day and on a bay cruise another day. Other than that, we were on our own. One day DH & I took his little sisters & gave their parents a day off, and one night MIL watched my niece so SIL & BIL could have a date night. We did hang out together a lot, in the hot tub & during happy hour, but there wasn't an expectation that we would spend all of our time together.

If you know you'll have trouble getting away from the group, then maybe dovetail schedules? Start your vacation a few days earlier & do something you want to do as a family, and then show up for the group camping for a couple of days, and then you'll have the excuse to leave early because you're out of time. Wink

wlillie's picture
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

I think I'd compromise. Before ten is my family time unless they plan something really special. I planned a disney vacation for everyone and let them know which events were optional and which I wanted everyone to be at. I think there were 3 the entire week and everyone showed up for them. It was a nice mix for the optional with who ended up hanging out.

My grandmother insists on one kid from each family, but she has 7 children, 23 grandchildren, and 23 great-grandchildren (going to be 24 this week). As long as one person from each family (including my uncle who married into us) attends, she is fine.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116

I think its completely reasonable to want to spend some time and do things on your own. I have a very large family and it has gotten so big we have started renting a camp for family reunions every 3 years. There are 90 of us now just with immediate family from my mother down to great-grandchildren including spouses. We share cabins and bathrooms and there is a main lodge with a cook provided which is really nice, but everyone has to pitch in and help with dishes and cleanup. We all recognize that individual families might want to do things on their own part of the time and no one has any problem with it.

Jokr's picture
Joined: 04/19/12
Posts: 282

If I was forced to spend every meal and every activity with everyone else, I'm pretty sure I would have some fantastic excuse every year not to go!!

DH and I are trying to start the tradition of getting a family camping trip organized each year, and we're adamant that people are responsible for their own meals, meal times, they can pick their campsite wherever they want, and can do or not do any activities we have on the go.
However, my MIL has different ideas - she's determined that we all need adjoining campsites, need to eat every meal together, each family take turns buying all the food and cooking, etc.

Honestly, my opinion is if your kids want breakfast when they wake up, feed them and everyone else can deal with it. If they want to have a nap, then have a nap. If they want to go for a walk, then go, and maybe someone else is looking to escape for a little bit of freedom as well. With that many people I think it's totally reasonable that each family take care of themselves and on their own schedule.

I don't think anyone should be forced to participate in every group activity and meal - it's your holidays as well!

Good luck!

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

We survived. I actually had a valid reason for opting out of the activities. My tummy's been pretty bad the past 18 months or so, but now it's so bad I have to stay near a bathroom at all times. Doc says IBS but my lab work from a week and a half ago has showed something so I have to get the results on Wednesday. Anyway, it's never a good idea to stray too far from the trailer. DH took the kids up the river in the raft and I was sad I missed that, but otherwise I was quite happy to relax and read a book. Smile

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

Sorry about the upset stomach. Hope you get that figured out soon. But yay for not having to spend every waking moment with everyone!

Joined: 01/06/03
Posts: 1175

I think expecting everybody to spend 24/7 with each other is crazy. How long is this "reunion"??? We just had a family reunion last weekend and yes everybody hung out together... scavanger hunt for those who wanted to, some tug-o-war, some kick-ball... but lots of just standing/sitting around with relatives you haven't seen in forever and lots of free time for the kids to catch frogs LOL Of course, our family reunions are once every 3-5 years and consist of only a day... and not even a full day at that (this year's started at 1 and people were packing up/leaving by 6-ish after supper. Oh and nobody gets upset or offended if somebody can't make it... my great-grandparents (long dead but the reunion is of their descendants) had 12 kids, for about 5 or 6 of those family lines there was nobody there representing at all.

But if you have a big week-long type reunion/family vacation... I would see nothing wrong with people doing some of their own thing... some time together as a group daily, sure... but makes total sense that people would want to go off on their own/smaller groups/etc. I would. And I wouldn't lose sleep over anybody getting bent out of shape... they'll get over it.