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Senior Momentum - September 2015 - All Together? (Cross your fingers!)


Senior Momentum - September 2015 - All Together? (Cross Your Fingers!)

by Zoe Tummillo


Large Family Gatherings can be risky business; we all know that! It starts with “the planning process,” and then it’s a toss-up! Who’s in charge of what? Do we include so-and-so – (after-what-happened-last-time!)? Do we just set a date, and those who can make it do; or do we get “input “ from everybody (that’s a nightmare if anything is...) and try to make it work? Where shall it be? Who’s bringing what?  And so it goes, etc., etc., etc.

I can hear the naysayers out there, mumbling no big deal! Yet, almost everyone I questioned started by rolling their eyes! Most of them did it with a smile. No one seemed to have a problem with the concept; it was making it happen without a mini civil war that seemed to be the point.

The thing about some traditional family gatherings is that they can be chancy at best and a disaster at worst.  With multiple in-laws, outlaws, mystery fifth cousins and the forty-eight-year-old uncle who arrives on his skateboard (and will share all his piercings if you want to see them), it’s a toss-up as to whether it’s worth doing or not...  I think it is! Do you know anyone with a perfect family?  (Oxymoron?)

Traditions can be a pain to maintain, but no one said it was all fun and no hassle! Traditions simply won’t survive if someone doesn’t bite the bullet, take charge and muscle through the resistance! Keeping the continuity of family connections would all but disappear if it weren’t for the stubborn souls who insist on the historical repetition.  (Every family has them. You know who they are: We’ll get together or I’ll be damned!)

Believe me, asking the questions: “Does your family do big gatherings? How does it go?” brought forth some prize-winning stories!  But, most stories ended up with the good news that it was probably all worth it, and was more positive than negative!

With society and family patterns radically changed, it’s more important than ever to make the commitment for traditional events that remind us of the core concepts of family.  Not only to remind, but also to preserve that cohesiveness we need in good times and bad – whatever the family construct.

While the character and composition of “family” has evolved and grown and morphed into identities that would astonish some of our ancestors, it seems to me that the basics manage to survive! Doesn’t it follow that we have all the more reason to put out the effort to weave the contemporary into the traditional? Mix up the patterns and styles, so to speak? Isn’t it vital – lest we lose it all?

The last big family reunion in my family spanned five generations and included nearly every possible combination of human factors and characteristics! The earlier ancestors were there in snapshots under table glass, and on posters all around. It was easy to see how the concept of family has evolved, expanded and re-designed itself! 

Where does the responsibility fall? Have we sufficiently impressed our children with the value of traditions for them to want to maintain? There have certainly been times when I worried that all was lost – times when it felt like those threads of connection were slipping through my fingers and falling into obscurity.  Not from mean spirit, but merely from the frustrations of the responsibility passed to me from mine, to pass from me to theirs. Sometimes you really have to fight for this stuff.  

How to handle the challenge of our reluctant, way-too-cool characters -- who already know it all at 14 or 16 and can’t be bothered?  Good luck!  ...or you could pretend you’re Italian. Find three tall uncles to confiscate their phones, then, drag them kicking and screaming, to the party, to their slot in the family, to their place at the table and into their part of the path! (Then, hope you can make it stick.)

Zoë Tummillo is a Business & Marketing Consultant, Trainer, Commercial Writer, dba COMMUNICATION CONCEPTS, in private practice since 1974. In addition to Commercial work, she writes “Senior Momentum: A Series of Situations”; “Pieces of My Path”©, essay memoirs of growing up first generation Italian American; and Senior Momentum: Front And Center!©. To contact her: email: