Family Ties to the Living
Letters and Journals: We started with letter writing to family members as one responsibility from Family Council. Family members took turns writing or drawing pictures for grandparents when the children were young. When the children started college there were letters to the students. Then came missions and letters to missionaries, our family and cousins. The grandparent’s letters back were filled with rich insight and counsel. (These letters have helped fill in dates of events when journals were not complete.)
Susan has done a great job of writing a journal volume for each year of our marriage. These journals have been a great reference sources for many inquiries. Several of the children have picked up on the value of the journals. The children at various times have had their own journal. We have asked each to write at the time of significant events in their lives like their baptism to record their feelings at these times. With the small children, we have helped them to write two or three lines a week as a start. This form of original thinking about life is very good for us all. It has proven therapeutic in the lives of several of the children during challenges. Journals provide perspective to look back at our lives and ask, "Is this really how it was?"
Now, we as grandparents have written the “Small Plates (summaries) of our lives” with principles and events that have shaped our values and character. We are now sharing these with adult grandchildren away at college and on missions. Susan has also compiled and published from the journal a book of the first eight years of each of the children's lives.
Visits: In Family Council we also planned and worked on special visits to family – immediate and extended. Our extended family has been wonderful in getting together when we were available to visit in Utah. Our parents have been great support in coming for major events and letting us visit them as well. The yearly and monthly calendars developed in Family Council have really helped facilitate these visits. Such as planning the summer flight to Utah for the four oldest when they were 12, 10 and twins 8 years old. Or, the many motor trips across America from the East to the West to visit family.
Reunions: As the family has now grown, we continue to foster family unity with immediate family reunions every two years. We use the internet to council as a family on dates, location, content and activities of the reunion. The reunions of the now 46 of us incorporate elements of the three major Life Tasks of the Family Council agenda. The events and activities are based on ages of the family groups. The reunion in 2016 had an Olympic theme with each family representing a kingdom. Activities and events were age appropriate, with awards given after each of the four day's events.