Saturday, July 23, 2011

Family Reunions

Apparently July is the time for family reunions, and after many years of gathering at Christmas, three years ago my mom's side of the family decided to gather in the summer instead. Weather being what it is in the Midwest (Kansas and Nebraska) and having many teachers in the family, summer seems to work better.

The first year was a bit of a trial run, so we also organized it around a surprise birthday party for my mom's 65th birthday. We didn't plan many activities but mainly figured out where 30-40 people were going to eat a couple times a day and where we were going to stay. Year two took us to Kansas for several activities and some down time for naps for kids, socializing and swimming. Year three we were back in Nebraska which included a trip to the cemeteries to visit some ancestors, and I brought (some of) my genealogy info to share. Now my immediate family is in charge for year four, so we will see what that brings.

Some things to consider with a family reunion:
1. Location, location, location (for food, activities and hotels we find a good-sized city is needed)
2. Activities for all ages: we've had swimming, shooting guns, shopping, bowling, cemetery tour, roller skating
3. Some down time: several of us still have young children who "need" naps, plus usually we just want to talk and catch up with our family
4. Traditions: Our family would be disappointed if my mom didn't bring chocolate angel food cake, I didn't bring mint brownies, and Aunt Mary didn't bring her sugar cookies.
5. Date and duration: Some people stick with the same weekend each year. We tend to try to find a weekend that fits with most of the family. Some reunions are just a few hours around lunch or dinner; we usually do most of the weekend, Saturday morn through Sunday noon. People usually don't have to take much time off work then.

That's about all I have. Feel free to add your suggestions. We don't have a very large family reunion, although we now are over 40 members if everyone attends. I think each year there has been one family not come, which is disappointing but the schedule doesn't always work for everyone.

Hope you take some time this summer to enjoy your family and have fun together!

Friday, July 8, 2011

What's in a Name?

How did we get our name? What is the most popular first name in your family tree (program)? Have you found any unusual names in your research or other research? How did/do you select a name for your kids? These questions recently came to me, so I thought I'd jot them down to discuss.

My first name is Beth (not Elizabeth, just Beth). I am not sure exactly how I got my name (maybe I should ask my mother), but my conjecture has been that since my mother's name is Betty, they picked Beth because it is similar. Yes, we both get asked if our full name is Elizabeth. Neither of us is Elizabeth. Sometimes I wish my name was Elizabeth, because then I would have nickname options. Not many nickname options for Beth. 

We selected the name Kirk for our first child because we like it, and after a Christian evangelist (and former child actor) Kirk Cameron. My husband also likes Captain Kirk of Star Trek, and I kind of like Kirk Herbstreit of ESPN so it seemed like a good name. We chose his middle name after my dad; my son has my dad's middle name. So now (if you didn't know) I am pregnant with our second child, and we have to select names again. We have two girl names in mind, but are having trouble with a boy name. My husband has a couple of ideas on boy names, but I'm not sure I like them. You are welcome to leave suggestions in the comments. We don't like "popular" names; we'd like him not to have the same name as several others in his class (or our town). It needs to be slightly unusual, but not extra weird if you know what I mean. One name my husband likes is Experience, which is the name of one of his ancestors. I don't like it, so there's very little chance our child will have that name. When I was pregnant with Kirk, he liked to tell people we were going to name him Abimelech, which means "my father is king".

Of course I and at least my mom and my sister-in-law are hoping we have a girl so then the boy name won't matter. My husband wants another boy, which might be easier as we already have boy clothes and toys. I think my two nieces (one almost 9 months old and one going to be born in September) need a girl cousin to play with. My closest girl cousin in age was over 3 years younger than me, which is not a big deal now, but when you're growing up it seems bigger. 

In certain cultures, they use naming patterns. For instance I learned in Germany they often use the same first name and then go by their middle name or one of their middle names. I have found several Johanns (Johns) in my family tree. Sometimes a child is named after a relative. Often they name the first son after the paternal grandfather, the second son after the maternal grandfather, the third after the father, etc. That makes for confusing family trees. Also I learned just because he is John Jr. does not mean he is the son of John Sr. He may be the younger John in the family. 

Hopefully you learned something from this post or it at least got you to thinking of your names.