Family Reunion or Family Feud?

Surely this sentiment has been expressed or imagined by many while attending a family reunion. In theory, reunions are supposed to be opportunities to share wonderful moments; make memories, and reconnect with family members you\’ve not seen in years or didn\’t know existed; and have a great time with people you are connected to while enjoying new locations. That\’s the theory. However, too often, it\’s not the practice. In some cases, counseling is needed after attending a family reunion because of the trauma from the event.
Family reunions can get ugly and even dangerous. They can stir up old rivalries, open wounds from past squirmishes, or become de facto arbitration sessions trying to settle or justify who is getting what from the estate of deceased family members.
Believers are particularly conflicted because, in many cases, fam- ily reunion activities challenge their belief systems and moral standards; and can actually alienate them from others—even when they don\’t flaunt their religion.

Even dating is more problematic today because it is increasingly possible that a person could be romantically interested in someone who is, in fact, his or her brother or sister.

If you haven\’t attended your family reunion in a while, do so. If none are planned, start one. When love triumphs in family reunions, the benefits will reach future generations.

Family Reunions:
1. Help reaffirm the importance of family;
2. Present the opportunity to solve long-standing problems and heal old wounds.
3. Are an opportunity to put the love of Christ on display.


The concept of “family” is in the midst of a major metamorphosis with alarming and tragic potential due to the following:
1. The growing popularity of same sex marriages and families headed by same sex partners,
2. The dramatic increase in single parent homes; and,
3. The rampant explosion of promiscuous sexual activity.

At FAMILYREUNION.COM, you can find a bevy of activities to make your next reunion unforgettable! Here are a few we liked:

1. Tell Stories
Sit around in a group and tell stories (preferably embarrassing) about each other. The best story win a prize! Kids always love to hear grandpa and grandma tell stories about their parents (you know why kids and grandparents get along so well). And don\’t forget to ask the kids to tell storie about their parents—at least the ones that are “fit for public consumption!”

2. Photos & Memorabilia
Create an attractive display of old photographs and family paraphernalia. Ask everyone to bring something to display. Set aside a table for “missing persons”— pictures of ancestors whom you can\’t identify. Maybe someone else will recognize them.

3. Have a Family Talent Show
You would probably be surprised at the talents of your various family members. Make sure you tell everyone about this in advance, in case they need to bring something with them (like their violin, juggling balls, or blowtorch). Give certificates or awards for the various categories.




72 thoughts on “Family Reunion or Family Feud?

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    Fashion perpetuates the image of the slender woman being the ideal feminine and can sometimes have significantly detrimental effects. Due to the mass production of clothing, it has become easier for the fashion industry to encourage women to be slender (Macdonald, 1995, p208). Many of the most fashionable garments are not made larger than a woman’s Australian size fourteen. This encourages women to diet and exercise in order to lose weight, a trend also encouraged by the many advertisements involving slender women. One disturbing result of society’s fascination with being thin has been the rise in eating disorders, including anorexia (Macdonald, 1995, p208). In Australia’s November 2004 issue of Cosmopolitan an article was run entitled ‘Anorexia for Sale’. This article discussed Mary Kate Olson, a well known actress, and her public struggle with Anorexia Nervosa. Images of Olsen and other famous women who appear to be unhealthily thin, such a Kate Moss, have been used on websites known as ‘pro ana’ sites, that is, websites supporting anorexia as a ‘lifestyle choice’ as opposed to an illness (Percival, 2004, p62). Many of these sites have begun to sell ‘ana bracelets’ and ‘ana necklaces’ which are a means of identifying other anorexics and which serve as a reminder not to eat. This jewellery has proven quite popular within the anorexic community (Percival, 2004, p62). This is an extreme example of fashion (or in this case accessories) being used to specifically propagate the idea of being thin. On the other hand clothing can also be used to raise awareness of eating disorders and encourage women not to go so far. T shirts with the slogan ‘Save Mary Kate’ and a drawing of her emaciated figure were released with just this intention (Percival, 2004, p62). Released when Mary Kate began her rehabilitation, the emaciated drawing on the t shirts is far from attractive and draws attention to her bones and the unnaturalness of being so thin. The words ‘Save Mary Kate’ could be read in one of two ways however, they could refer to the fact that she is need of help, thus constructing her as a victim, or they could be referring to the desirability of her image and a wish that she remain so thin, thus the implication could be ‘Save Mary Kate from the rehabilitation clinic’. This second reading is supported by the image itself, in which she is smiling and returning the gaze of the viewer. This subverts the intended message that she is a victim.

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    There is no inherent reason for an item of clothing, for example a skirt, to be considered feminine. Roland Barthes, in his book The Diseases of Costume, writes of theatrical dress as a kind of language in which the basic element is the sign (Lurie, 1992, p3). This statement can be expanded to include all elements of dress away from the theatre. If clothing is a sign therefore, it must be given a meaning and this meaning, as with all signs, is constructed. For example, society has identified the skirt as a signifier of femininity, which has been reinforced through repeated exposure (both through the media and on the street) to images of women in skirts and men in trousers. The fact that the gender signification of this garment has altered indicates that fashion, just like gender itself, is a social construction, with fashion items becoming loaded signs. If our appearance is an accumulation of signs then we each reveal something about ourselves through our choice of garments; clothing becomes a reflection of our identity. Whilst fashion does allow women to experiment with their image and different ways of portraying femininity, as something primarily constructed for the male gaze it still confines women to a choice between constructed female identities (Barnard, 1996, p140).

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    Whilst fashion may try to subvert or construct gender identities, it may simply support social ideals already in place. As Malcom Barnard writes in his book Fashion as Communication, “Signs are only meaningful on the basis of their relations to all other signs” (1996, p156). In this way fashion can only convey a meaning when coupled with other signs (particularly the body itself), and as such cannot construct a gendered identity of its own accord. In order for clothing to be a signifier of a gender identity, that gender identity must already be constructed in order to give fashion its meaning. In which case, fashion is not constructing gender identities; it is reflecting and reinforcing them. Not all fashions have been accepted by society, the most obvious examples being skirts and the colour pink not being acceptable for men (Lurie, 1992, p214). Some designers, like Jennifer Minniti, have attempted to promote skirts and dresses as a male alternative; however such designs have not succeeded in the mainstream (Shreve, 1998). This is likely due to them not conforming to society’s expectations of gender identities. Men in skirts are still considered to be cross dressing, and as such skirts remain signifiers of femininity. Gender identity also comprises more than appearance. Gesture, behaviour and social standing all contribute to a person’s gender identity, and whilst fashion can attempt to draw on or hide these signifiers it cannot do so completely.

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    Fashion can certainly be used to parody, subvert and deconstruct gender identities (particularly the feminine), however, in the mainstream, it can only ever reflect the social conscious behind it. If society is not ready for men to wear skirts, then skirts will not be bought by the majority of men. Whilst designers like Jean Paul Gaultier can attempt to deconstruct gender stereotypes through fashion, many of these subversions can still be read as supporting the distinction between gender identities. Fashion and dress is influenced by both the body itself and the range of signs that it refers to, making it difficult to determine where fashion ends and social consciousness begins.

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    A woman wearing men’s clothing does not conform to the feminine ideal and as such is recognisably subverting it. The fact that this subversion is identifiable highlights the gendered nature of the fashion industry and the way in which it supports society’s belief in the feminine being separate from the masculine. If gender identity is learnt, then by choosing our own clothes we reflect how well we have learnt to be masculine or feminine. For cross dressers fashion is a means of either constructing a gendered identity different to the one expected of them or parodying the constructed nature of gender itself.

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