This week's PhotoHunt theme is FAMILY.
My husband's family always gathered at Grandma & Grandpa's house for Christmas. Short of hospitalization, no absence would be excused. Naturally the original six brothers & sisters, and their spouses, and their children and grandchildren aren't all still living in the hometown. We're scattered from Kansas City to Ft. Lauderdale.
As the family grew and disbursed and added in-law families with demands of their own, it became harder and harder for everyone to make it to Grandma & Grandpa's for Christmas day. So, a few years ago, we decided to convert our yearly gathering to a family reunion on the last weekend of July.
Thus was born, "Christmas In July". We take turns hosting to evenly share the burden of travel. This last summer was in Ohio. Next year will be in Florida. We book a park with lots of facilities and a block of rooms at a nearby hotel.
With over forty family members, it's a bit hard to keep up with them in a big park with lots of distractions. So we put bright yellow tee-shirts on everyone with huge black numbers on the back. Those numbers represent the order in which each person joined the family. Dan is the second child, so his number is "4". There were ten people in the family when we married, so my number is "11".
This lineup are some of the younger grandchildren. Number "35" managed to fall in the mud by the riverbank within the first hour we were there, so he is out of "uniform". When the little girl's mother marries one of our nephews in a few months, she will get her own shirt.
We set up food in our pavilion; play cards; visit; share photo albums; and watch the young cousins getting reaquainted and enjoying each other's company.
My granddaughter was the newest addition this summer. She doesn't have her shirt yet, but her number is "43". By next July two new marriages bringing instant families, will add another seven members. An even FIFTY.
We'll celebrate that milestone at Disney World. It should be great fun.
Not forgetting the original purpose of this family gathering, we decorate our pavilion with a lighted Christmas tree; play holiday music on the boom box; and have a spirited "rob-your-neighbor" gift exchange.
Grandma & Grandpa are no longer with us. In fact, everyone after number "31" didn't have the opportunity to know them.
But, we remember them with a toast each year, and with the knowledge that they would have been filled with pride and love to watch all those yellow shirts running around the park.