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FAMILY REUNION: 40 years and counting

I am a little nostalgic as I typically would have been heading to North Carolina to attend my annual family reunion. This year was supposed to be the 40th Annual Mack and Hannah Lewis Family Reunion. Yes, you read that right, for the past 40 years hundreds of the descendants of Mack and Hannah Lewis have gathered in a small town by the name of Snow Hill, NC because Family is Everything. I honestly cannot remember my first reunion because for the past 36 years of my life, the majority of my Fourth of July weekends have been spent in Snow Hill, NC. Below I will give you some tips as to how my family for 40 years has managed to descend upon the town from all over the world to Remember the Past, Embrace the Present, and Plant the Seeds for our Future:

1. It is ingrained in the Lewis’ that it is important to know your family: There were times when I was a kid, I would grumble about having to spend my weekend in this little town for the Family reunion because the beach or amusement park is where I wanted to be. However, my parents always emphasized that you have to know your family. Mack and Hannah Lewis descendants expands to now seven or eight generations, so obviously at this point you may very well live in a town or work somewhere with a family member which was my case. Through attending my reunion, I was able to meet a cousin whose house I could run to and even a little cousin who is now attending the Naval Academy where I teach.

2. We are organized. There are bylaws which have established the way in which the family reunion should be run. They identify where and when the reunion will be held, who is the planner(s), and even traditions to be honored at the weekend celebrations. We honor where we started. In the bylaws it is written that the reunion can only ever be held in Snow Hill. Snow Hill is not Orlando, FL, but is something about hundreds of people descending on a town where their family was once slaves, sharecroppers, and even hid in their house praying the Klan would not descend on their homes. As a woman who has reached great successes, it is an honor to stand on the land and honor my ancestors who endured and sacrificed so much for me.

3. We delegate and share the responsibility of the planning. Planning a reunion or any event can be overwhelming. In the bylaws, it establishes that each branch of Mack and Hannah Lewis will be responsible for the planning and execution for a two year period. The branch assigns a leader and creates a planning committee. There are eight active branches, so after the two year period it is a while before that branch comes up in rotation again. This alleviates one person or group people being responsible for the planning and execution each year.

4. We celebrate at the same time every year. Every year we celebrate the reunion on the Fourth of July weekend, and again this is required in the bylaws. This actually helps one plan well in advance every year if they do plan to go to the reunion. I myself find it useful when planning my summer events and vacations.

6. We honor traditions. We actually have a plaque that the branch in most attendance wins, and this in fact is an intense competition when it comes time for the count. This friendly competition actually encourages family members to rally their branches to attend because every branch wants to win! Also, the schedule of events is like tradition: Friday is the Fish Fry with Games/Activities, Saturday is the indoor meal where we do the family count and memorial service, and Sunday is the worship service at the family church. There is a purpose for tradition!

Although COVID prevented the descendants of Mack and Hannah Lewis from celebrating our 40th in Snow Hill, we are hoping to be back next year in 2021. I encourage you to take some of the tips mentioned above and either start, re-energize, or improve your Family’s Reunion. Family Reunions are important for you to honor your past, but also ensure your family remains connected in the present and future.


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