Monday, July 29, 2013

Family Matters--a continuation...

It was a really good weekend!
Other than the initial drive of about eight hours in various states of rainy weather, it was a grand weekend of seeing the whole family! We got things started with a casual get together on Friday night.

One of the newest members to join our group is expecting the first great-grandchild in the Jerry and Leticia family. Naturally, somebody came up with the idea of a surprise baby shower! After eating sandwiches, chips, fruit and what-not, we gathered together and put Justin and Tiffany on the spot! I think that Justin was a bit surprised by the event. Tiffany, on the other hand, was a little more than shocked! It seemed that there were a couple of moments when she was struggling not to get emotional. Who wants to start crying in front of a bunch of people that you've just met?

I don't know what kind of family background Tiffany has, but I know that in this family, she is going to be loved on, teased, made fun of, protected, defended and made to feel welcome and a part of something that ought to define family.

In addition to Tiffany, Justin's older brother Jason introduced us to his fiancee, Jess, and my brother Steve brought his girlfriend, Michelle. I think that Michelle had managed to meet much of the family already, but a first for being with the whole gang of us.

I was thinking of how overwhelming such an encounter might be.

On the other hand, with such a large and diverse group of people, it would be difficult not to connect with somebody that has a similar job, hobby or other interest. Whether you own your own business, work for the government, serve in the military, work retail, health service, labor sector, banking, engineering, computers or a host of other occupations--or have made a career of being a stay at home mom; there is somebody here that can relate.

Figuring out how you're going to keep to your vegetarian diet at this gathering? No problem, we have vegans as a part of this family. We have people ranging from couch-potatoes to marathon runners; readers and non readers; sports nuts and those that really don't care for sports. We have those that excel in music (vocal and instruments) and those that can barely manage to select a genre on Pandora. Whether you are far right or far left on the political spectrum, we have someone that shares your views. We run the religious gamut from non-believers to preachers. We have connoisseurs of coffee and craft beer. We love hot and spicy...or not. We live in the rural Midwest and in large cities.

And we love each other.

The seventeen grandkids range from 35 years old down to eight...and they all get along. They played "Capture the Flag" until dark on Friday night and each side laughingly declared that the other side cheated. They played soccer on Saturday afternoon with the oldest declaring that he had earned the right to be the "lame cousin" and sitting the game out.

It has been so cool to hear what the kids have to say. Here are a few of the things I've heard or read:
"Hill family reunions are just the best!"
"My cousins are the very best"
"If I know you're visiting, I will have Starbucks." Grandmas are the best.
"This is a really cool family."

And my favorite from Friday night:
Mom (looking at the gathering of people): Jerry, look what we've started!
Dad: What are you blaming me for?!

Joining us for the day were all of the kids from my dad's sister's family with most of their kids and grandkids, and my dad's brother with his wife and one of their kids. I would echo the sentiments of my niece in saying that "My cousins are the very best!" It pains me that my kids don't get to see their cousins as often as I got to see mine, but I do rejoice in the way the get along when they do. The big kids are still the heroes and the little ones feel important every time somebody pays attention to their stories or plays their games.

Here are Mom and Dad with their grandkids and the women that their oldest grandsons have chosen:

And here is the whole gang minus Chris that couldn't be there.

John <><

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