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It's Time to Think about the 4th of July

05Dec 2010

Yes, I know it is winter and Christmas is approaching quickly. No, this isn’t about keeping warm by visualizing warmer weather.

Now is the time to start thinking about a family “get together” next summer. If you want to have family events, a holiday weekend, or even a common family vacation, you need to start planning now.

Many of us will be getting together with our families over the Christmas or New Year’s holiday. And even if we will not be able to be together physically, there will be phone calls or Skype interactions.

So, I would suggest you do a little “pre-planning”. Look at your calendar and those of your family members and target some potential dates that might work (have more than one option to choose from — there is a good possibility someone will have a scheduling conflict.) Get ideas from family members of what they would like to do. When would work best for them? What kind of gathering or vacation would they enjoy? What ideas do they have for possible places or activities? Their involvement from the ‘get go’ will foster more ‘buy in’ later. Then do some initial research. Look into some potential places to stay. Depending on the size of your group, you will probably need to reserve accommodations several months in advance. Search the web. Call and talk to the places. Talk to friends and get ideas from them.

Next, I would encourage you to put the word out early. Don’t wait until the holiday gathering. Share your desires and ideas about the family getting together now. Let family members think on it, talk about it with their spouse, gather information about their kids’ schedules and commitments for next summer. Then you can make adjustments as you get feedback.

At some point in the process, you need to make a commitment to do the event. Again, depending on the size of the family and the scope of what you are trying to do (a long weekend with your nuclear family is different than a multi-generational family get together involving aunts, uncles & cousins), the process will vary. In some cases, you need to set a time for all involved to talk together and reach a consensus decision. In other cases, you find out the date and place that works for most everyone and decide to do it — letting those who can make it, come; and those who can’t (or aren’t sure), figure it out.

The single biggest “killer” of family gatherings is waiting to make plans until everyone is able to come. In today’s family life, a 100% attendance rate for the whole event is virtually impossible. A 100% attendance rate for part of the event is a blessing. Shoot for getting as many as possible; plan it and do it. And if it is fun for those who attend, the likelihood of others attending the next time is greater. Let me restate — if you wait until you can find a date and place that works for everyone, you probably will not get together at all.

Family gatherings are one of those parts of life that I would fit into Covey’s “important but not urgent” category. They take time and effort to plan, and to pull off. But the rewards are tremendous.

Happy Christmas shopping — and don’t forget about the 4th of July.

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