By Olivia Burgess

Talking Points:
1.    Remember, second verse same as the first: “Don’t have unrealistic expectations”
2.    Some things/people don’t change just because you’ve changes
3.    Expect that your abnormal characters are the norm for your family
4.    Work the space so that you don’t get caught in a conversation with the offensive family member
5.    Have multiple options for food so that no one gets left out
6.    Make sure everyone is on the same page if you have to hide your purses, jewelry & maybe even the alcohol
7.    Choose your seating arrangement wisely so that certain family members are not together
8.    Don’t try to force serious conversations (try to keep it light); it’s about fun and great connections and even your history/legacy
9.    Make sure that young and old connect through games and activities
10.    The family reunion/vacation is not the time to bring up the family drama (i.e. The Pink Elephant) just because everyone is there  
11.    Don’t get triangulated into the gossip
12.    Set the tone with prayer and an expectation love, light and connection first

Body:

When we think of family vacations or reunions we think of all the good memories, all the good people in our family, all the grandkids, the food along with those secret family recipes that we all love so much and just pure relaxation. But for some its not all sunshine and rainbows, some individuals face many obstacles during this time of coming together, so I have some advice for those that go through this process. To start off “Don’t have unrealistic expectations”; doing this does nothing but make you stress or worry about something that simply can not be changed over night, your family is your family and they are who they are so accept them with open arms. Next thing is realize the little quirks about yourself or in other family members that are a normal thing in your family, think of it like this your family or an individual in your family is unique do to their abnormal characteristics meaning no one has that Grandmother or uncle who cant stop giving advice every five seconds or your laugh that you may think is obnoxious but to others it is unique or contagious. Another thing to keep in mind is don’t stay stuck talking to the same person during the reunion or vacation especially if that family member is known for being offensive or negative all the time, remember this is a time of relaxation and positivity. When at a family reunion or vacation remember that in this day and age people are conscious about what they put into their bodies so, some people at the gathering may not eat any kind of meat or dairy anymore so have multiple options for those who are either vegan, vegatarian or pescatarian. Another thing to take note on is making sure everyone is on the same page, it’s sad when you have to hide your own personal belongings at family gatherings due to some individuals being known for taking things from other family members but if that is not a risk you are willing to take then by all means hide your belongings and if it gets to bad hide the alcohol as well. In some families you have drama and sometimes that drama does not go away due to immaturity or indifferences, so when the day comes for the family to be together again make sure you have good seating arrangements so the two individuals never cross paths with one another also you don’t want to force certain conversations between individuals either aka “The Pink Elephant in the room”. One thing you want to accomplish at a family vacation or reunion is build a connection between the elders and the young. There is nothing more beautiful than to see the young kids bonding with their predecessors because soon they will be gone and the new generation must continue the family legacy. Lastly, incorporate prayer and meditation for the family to enjoy because remember this is a time for connecting with one another not disconnecting; you will come away from that day with wonderful and loving memories and that’s how you know you survived the family shenanigans of the summer.