How do you do family get-togethers and/or family birthdays? Let me start off by explaining the dynamics of how family get-togethers work in our family. There are at least four set family get-togethers; they are as follows:
- The Christensen Family: My dad calls it the Christensen Family Evening Together which he has in a Google Calendar along with all birthdays and anniversary for all of us to see and remember. This is held every month and has been established to be every third Sunday of the month. It rotates through the family as to where it is hosted--it started with my parents and goes through all five brothers. This makes it so it is at your house only twice a year since there are six houses. For these get-togethers we do it as a family home evening style. The young kids in the family try and sing a song while we watch and admire how adorable they are and wonder what the heck Kyle and Riker are doing in the other room. We have a brief lesson usually with an activity and some kind of item to eat after. We do also take this time to acknowledge the birthdays for the month but do not expect any gifts of any kind from anyone, but appreciate them if they are given.
This type of gathering works for my family. We have tried to do the random get-togethers, but communication is an issue, so someone always got forgotten or my mother would tell one son that we are having dinner and another that it was just appetizers (blueberries Mom, blueberries)! For the Christensen family we are 21 strong with one on the way and we all live in Utah (for now), so it usually is not a trip or a task to get to someone's house to celebrate (except for Adam and Joan in Provo but it would be pretty funny to see all 22 of us jammed into their apartment). Anyway, it works for this family and hopefully can continue to work.
- The Kenner Family: Jessica's parents have two types of get-togethers in a given month. The first is a standing get together the first Sunday of every month, and is strictly a get-together where we really just hang out. It usually always stays the first Sunday except for Conference months when we have an excuse to all get together and fall asleep during Conference and Super Bowl Sunday when we throw a killer appetizer party at our house. Those are usually the only three Sundays in which we adjust the time. Now, we are 11 strong with one one the way and we can only rotate through 3 houses, as 2 siblings are on missions and one, well lets just say she's trying to convince her parents to create a wing of their house for her to grow old in. :) Once again, this process works for our family at this time and we hope it continues once the other siblings get married.
The other type of get together is for birthdays. Once a month we choose a day and usually go out to eat for the people who have birthdays that month. For example, this month is my birthday and I get to choose where all of us go out to eat next weekend. I could choose Rodizio Grill and watch my sister-in-law complain the whole time, or go to Chuck-E-Cheese and scare my son (he doesn't like the animatronic band show). Choosing where to go is always fun, and my in-laws always budget the money for this and never complain what we choose. This is a great treat given to us by them and I thank them for that. If you have a little extra money why not go out and treat the family to a wonderful dinner? I still have not decided where we will be going next week--any suggestions?
- The Fernelius Family: This is Jessica's Mothers side of the family, they have a birthday celebration once every month usually on a Saturday or Sunday. We are 48 strong with one on the way, with 40 living in-state. Now, this gets pretty difficult to get everyone to the birthdays and rarely happens. But it is always fun to be around extended family like that. It is very impressive that Grandma and Grandpa Fernelius with their 7 children and 7 spouses, 27 grandchildren with three spouses, 2 great grandchildren and one on the way can still all try and get together on a monthly basis and celebrate birthdays.
In conclusion, I find it sometimes hard to balance anything in life, especially family. At what point does it get too difficult to get together? At what point do you make it smaller and not get together as an entire extended family? What are some different ways to do it? I do not want to sound like I do not like the ways it is done in my family, but I wonder 10 years from now when all three of these scenarios grow by 10-15 people. We have two set weekends with families and two more that are on any weekend in in a month. This in turn leaves us with no weekends for the three most important family members to me. Obviously, dynamics are different in Utah as most families stay in the same state, and my hat is off to the families that can successfully do family get-togethers frequently with so many family members.