Family gatherings are important right? Of course! The challenge many of us have is the timing of such “meetups.” Fact is, our extended families often gather for religious celebrations/holidays. Some of us choose to opt out of these. If we attend our involvement may be limited (ie. we have a game plan before we head to Aunt So & So’s house). So be it. It seems to me that we need to be a bit more proactive though. Let’s be the ones who create a few new family traditions. That is, ones that ALL family members can participate in comfortably. Some call it “neutral” ground. Got me? Here are some suggestions:
– Plan an annual reunion.
– Have a games/puzzle night each year.
– Organize a treasure/scavenger hunt.
Now how do we deal with the prayer dynamic? Why not skip the usual communal one that Uncle X always delivers? Remember he’ll have his opportunity come Christmas/Easter (when it’s fitting). Consider having a moment of silence for all to pray(or not) in a matter that speaks to them. Or just announce when the food is ready and everyone will just dive in. They’ll get the message over time. If someone wants to break out in prayer (aloud that is) just gently let them know that in the interest of respecting everyone’s beliefs there will be no communal prayer. The other option is to have someone you trust give an *inter-faith prayer that truly suits everyone who is present. Mind you the only challenge with this is that you may have some athiests/agnostics in your family.
* Albeit your Christian relatives may still expect “in Jesus’ name. Amen” so beware.