About six months ago, I made a decision to work on reconnecting with family and a few old friends. When I was a child, I planned my own pay dates with my friends without help from my parents. It wasn’t a complicated process. It generally involved a call or knock on a door to ask “What are you doing?” or ” Can you come out to play?” It was my childhood experience that I didn’t have to plan time with family either because it was understood that my mom’s family would have Sunday dinner together every week at Mama Love’s house. I also knew that whenever a family member came within a sixty or seventy mile radius Daddy would pack up the car and drive to “see” family.
By the time I had children of my own, play date customs were different. Play date culture required me to talk to other parents before scheduling times for my children and their children to play together. The reality of relationship building in the context of family dinners and get togethers probably didn’t change for everyone, but it became clear to me that someone had to put in some work to create those opportunities for the family to connect. Why did it become necessary that children have people arrange their play time? Why did the family get togethers end?
Today, I spent time talking to one of my cousins who I haven’t seen since I was a child. He asked me if I could remember how we ever came to communicate via email about a year or two ago. I reminded him that his mother inadvertently included me in an email thread and he emailed to ask if I was Kim, the daughter of Aunt Lola. He also wanted to know where he read about Mama’s hat. We laughed as I told him the story of Aunt Pinkie making her famous pound cake and Mama demanding that we take the cake on the plane concealed in her beautiful hat box. As the story went, we accidentally left the beautiful hat box on the plane. The hat box took a journey to Ft. Lauderdale before making its way back to me in Tampa.
It has been too long since we have gotten together as a family. There are a host of nieces and nephews who I have never met or seen. We agreed that it had been too long since our families had any sort of reunion. The last reunion was in Alabama about seven or eight years ago. My cousin and I tried to think of all of the reasons why we stopped communicating with one another?
My cousin and I agreed that each of us had become so busy doing our thing that we sacrificed family gatherings for work. We agreed to maintain our relationship with each other and to challenge other family members to reacquaint themselves with family members. I am sure we can’t be the only family with this type of disconnect. I hope that other families will follow our lead. As a adult, connecting with other folks takes intention, planning, and flexibility and a willingness to engage in the process and be forgiving of missteps, and welcoming of uniquenesses that make your family and your friend circle a melting pot of personalities.
- If you haven’t maintained relationships with friends or family, start calling and visiting with one another.
- Ask questions about your life experiences since the last time your spoke.
- Find a point person willing to set the date for the gathering.
- Enjoy the time with family and/or friends
- Build your family tree complete with names
- Share all that you know with the children