John Legend on the Joy of Family Reunions: 'My kids Are So Excited to See Their Cousins, Aunts, and Uncles'
John Legend talks about how travel keeps his family connected, reuniting with his relatives during the pandemic, and summer fun for his two kids, Luna and Miles.
After a year of pandemic isolation, families are eager to reunite, and this dad is helping to make that happen. John Legend, father to Luna, 5, and Miles, 3, has teamed up with Vrbo to give away 30 long-awaited family reunion vacations over 30 days. As part of the #VrboReunionContest, you could win an epic $5K trip to anywhere in the United States so you can reconnect with your loved ones.
"There are so many people that have made sacrifices and didn't get a chance to see people they really love while we were all on lockdown over the past year and a half," Legend says. "I know my family was apart until recently." Although Legend is not an official judge of the contest running through August 12, he encourages families who are trying to win one of the 30 vacay giveaways to "make it authentic."
The singer talks more about reuniting with his own family amid the pandemic, how travel helps his family stay connected, and summer fun with Luna and Miles.
How have family reunions helped your kids?
They are so excited to see their family. My sister was in town this weekend and she has four kids and they all came with her. My kids are so excited to see their cousins, aunts, and uncles. They're starving for family content. Family connection. I think we all have been. We weren't able to get together for the holidays last year. We had to Zoom for Christmas. So finally seeing my sister after this long was very nice.
What's your favorite family reunion memory?
Some of the reunions we have aren't typically family reunions. They're holiday celebrations, but they basically have the same effect. Growing up, my favorite memory was going to my granny's house every Christmas. We would sing around the piano. We would cook together. We would play football in the yard together. We just loved being around each other. Celebrating with each other. Laughing with each other. It's always been such an integral part of our holiday celebrations. Same reason why I wanted to make a Christmas album, because I wanted to bring that sense of nostalgia, connection, and family joy that I've always felt when it came to the holidays. Those were often our family reunions.
What's your favorite activity or game you play at your family reunions?
We played a trivia game last holiday over Zoom. It was like a customized trivia game where you had to know some fun facts about our family and traditions. That was fun. We love to play all kinds of games, card games, etc. Uno's a classic. We like playing Family Feud too. My uncle has the Family Feud video game, and we love doing that with them. We usually go see a movie together either on Thanksgiving or Christmas.
And of course, music is key. We have so many people in my family who sing, play an instrument, or dance. We like to put on a little talent show on my side of the family. The bottom line is that we do it together and it's so communal, and even though individuals may do a song or two, most of the joy we have is from singing together.
Do you have any tips to throw a successful family reunion?
I don't throw any of them. One of my cousins is in charge of my mother's side of the family's reunion. Then usually our aunts and uncles or my dad coordinate our Christmas get-togethers, so I haven't actually had to plan one myself. I've planned smaller Thanksgiving dinners for my immediate family and Chrissy's immediate family. A lot of it's about getting the right place or renting a house that can hold all of us. A place where we can cook together and do all the things we want to do together. So I have been in charge of that. I'm usually the main chooser of our rental homes. Whenever we do a big family trip or have a big Thanksgiving or Christmas trip together, I'm usually in charge of discovering the right place, making sure Chrissy approves, and then getting the family there.
How does travel help your family stay connected?
The thing we love about renting homes is that you're more connected as a family when you can stay in a home together rather than in a bunch of different hotel rooms. We love cooking together. We love playing in the backyard together. You can make noise. If there's good weather and a pool, you can swim. You can do all these things without bothering anybody else. Having that privacy but also that connection with the people you love is perfect.
Do you have any travel hacks for traveling with young kids?
We finally succumbed to giving Luna and Miles iPads so they can watch a movie on the plane. Keeping them entertained on the plane is always a challenge. If you can make it through the flight, everything else is easy. Flying is always a struggle, and my daughter can't understand that she can't just order anything. There's not an unlimited menu. She's like, "Why don't we have this particular snack food that I like to eat?" And I'm like, "They don't have everything up here."
Once you get through the flight, renting a home is really good, especially when you have kids and a larger group, because it's a self-contained situation. You have your privacy and run of the house, which makes it easier for us to travel with them. So we've not done a lot of hotel trips since we've had the kids, but we've done a lot of home rentals.
What are Luna and Miles up to this summer?
They've been going to these little camps. They call them camps but it's basically filling up the time where they normally would have been in school. They don't sleep there or anything. They just go for the day. Luna's gone to a tennis camp for a week. They went to a beach camp where they did little beach sports on the Pacific. Now they're going to a transitional camp into their new school so that they get ready for the fall. It's good for us because it keeps them occupied during the day, letting us get some work done. And it also gets them acclimated to what school is going to be like in the fall. We did a preschool pod for the whole last school year, so they haven't really been out in the wild, but they're finally gonna do that this fall as long as we keep this delta variant under control.