I’ll start with my own family favourite – the tradition that sparked my interest in what other families do. About three years ago, my dad suggested that we hold a Family Meeting, an AGM of sorts. I suspect it was originally a way to get us up to speed with family finances and plan the year ahead, but it quickly became much more than that. With one sister based in Germany, one in Cape Town, one in Stellenbosch and our parents in Pretoria, the opportunities to sit and talk had become fewer and fewer ”and more difficult to coordinate. The Family AGM was a way of bringing us together to share the important When I look back on an AGM, it feels nostalgic and heartwarming, and I’m excited about the next one stuff in a constructive way. Because we’re dotted across the country (and, more recently, round the world), it usually happens around Christmas and New Year, when we all have a bit of holiday. We lock down a time, pour some champagne or wine, sit around a table and the AGM commences. There’s an agenda and we take minutes. We rotate the task of taking minutes, which has become a creative project with photos and visuals that we file away. Every time I look back on an AGM, it feels nostalgic and heartwarming, and I feel excited about the next one. The agenda goes like this…

Accolades: Each member of the family has a turn in the spotlight when we tell them why we’re proud of them. Accolades include (but aren’t limited to) professional achievements, emotional triumphs and whatever else made us feel proud. It’s so great to hear this – but also, because it’s part of the meeting, you get the chance to say that you’re proud of that person without feeling gushy and silly. Goals and objectives: In much the same way as with accolades, we take turns to share our goals for the coming year. It’s great to look back at minutes and remember our previous resolutions. Holidays: We all get so busy during the year, so planning family holidays together is a priority. Here we look at potential dates, destinations and adventures we want to share. Finances: My dad fills us in on all the exciting projects and plans he’s been working on. It’s one of the things I most look forward to as it’s great to know exactly what is going on so we’re all on the same page.

Hartsake: This translates as matters of the heart’. Last but not least on the list, this is the platform for us to share any pressing issues. Though the AGM is structured and detailed, at its core it’s a fun, relaxed way of fostering togetherness, communication and continuity. I’ve been making mental notes throughout the year of things to mention. Aaron, a doctor from Berlin, Germany, shares his tradition, which has made its way to some South African friends. Since I was 11 (in 1999), The Christmas Riddle or Mystery has been a much anticipated event for my family. When I was little, I wanted to become a geography teacher, so throughout the year I collected interesting questions. Some were questions I was asked, some were found in encyclopaedias and on the internet. Sometimes I opened the World Atlas randomly and found something exciting. At home with my family at Christmas, an exam consisting of my collected questions has to be written before gifts are handed out. I mark the answers and make corrections and notes with a red pen and we discuss the answers. It’s lots of fun, and everyone is eager to get the best score – even if the prize is just the title of winner’. Some of my friends and their families have adopted The Christmas Riddle now. And I get to be a teacher with a red pen once a year!’

THE FAMILY AGM Photo Gallery


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