Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The James Gang

When I was a kid we would get together with all of my mom's family every New Year's Day at the house of an uncle or aunt.  There was always cheesecake and carrot pudding (ew?  No! Not ew!  It's like in the song "oh, bring us some figgy pudding" only no figgies.  It's a dense, rich cake.  You'd love it.  I'll make you some).  The uncles would laugh their heads off and show off photos of their latest passion,; cars, dogs, ham radios... dude stuff.  The aunties would chatter and help children and keep the chips and dips and food coming in a steady stream.

I was in an awkward spot age-wise amongst the cousins.  The bigger kids didn't really want me around, and the kids younger than me were all smelly boys!  I spent a lot of time just listening to the grownups telling their wonderful, silly, crazy stories and watching them laugh.

That's what I remember the most.  The laughter!

Then one year someone suggested that we should move the reunion to the summer for this reason or that.  And without anyone realizing it, we had had our very last reunion.  The summer came and went, as did the following New Year.  We would not be gathered again till many years later at my uncle's funeral.  By then only a handful of cousins could come, and the bonds and friendships had faded into a smattering of childhood memories.

My own family, my folks and all my brothers and sisters, (The James Gang, as we have long been called) have gotten together from time to time; for a wedding, for mom's funeral, for dad's 80th birthday.  But trying to figure out a date that would work for everyone to get together just hasn't been easy.  There is always some work conflict or scout camp pushing it's way in.

Last year, I thought about the New Year's Day of my childhood.  I'll admit, I am more than a little bit sentimental.  I longed for the monster hugs of my brothers, for the soft lilt of my sister-in-law Tracey's lovely South African accent.  I ached to fall deep into a tangent-ridden conversation with my missionary-companion-turned-sister-in-law, dear Julean.  I wanted to see cousins playing together and babies being held.  My brother's horrifying admissions of the naughty things they had done when we were small.  My sisters, elegant and down to earth, with wisdom and no-nonsense ways.  And Dad.  I always miss Dad.  He loves unconditionally.

I took a chance.  I invited everyone over for New Year's Day.  Not everyone could make the trip last year, but some did.  And it was wonderful.

It was the same this year (but some is better than none!). We missed dad, who didn't feel up to the trip, and Julie and Caroline who are out of state.  Waaa.  But there was the food, and the cousins playing and oh, how there was laughter.  Full disclosure.  I may or may not have peed a little.

When Guy and I first got married we hurried off out into the world, not really making choices about where we would live based on proximity to family.  Now, I'm sad by how spread out we all are, and I'm just grateful that some of us still can get together for special events.  I mean, who wants to wait until someone DIES?!  First, HOW SAD!!!  And second, everyone has puffy eyes and red noses in the pictures.  That's quite unacceptable.  Sometimes ya' just gotta see each other.  Just because.

I am so blessed to have a large family that all gets along.  I know of so many that can't talk on the phone, let alone be in the same room together.  I have truly been blessed with in-laws that are loving, kind, unpretentious, generous and fun, and sibs that are gregarious, helpful, supportive and pretty dang good lookin'.  Just sayin'.

I'm looking forward to the next time.  Who says it has to wait till New Years?

These pictures were taken right after a laugh fest that nearly collapsed my lung.  You wouldn't know it by our faces in these pix, though.  I think we wore ourselves out.

It's all about

Till next time!

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