As I mentioned in yesterday's post, a big component of the location for our vacation this year included visiting my extended family – the Lock Flock. More specifically, we were planning to attend the Lock family reunion at my aunt and uncle's villa on Bass Lake outside of Orillia, Ontario.
There was a span of several years in the past when our family would get together in Kentucky or Ohio for a few days each August, but as our family has grown, and life circumstances have changed, we have let that go.
Instead we tend to get together in a more geographic sense – the southern Locks connecting when possible during the year, and the northern Locks doing likewise.
I am thankful that my nana always manages to come south at least once a year, and occasionally some southern Locks make the trip north or the northern Locks come down to the Nashville area around New Year's, but we rarely get together as a big group.
My last trip to Canada was three years ago for a wedding. Weddings and funerals, that's about the only time you can get a significant number of us together these days...
The last time our ENTIRE family was together was at my grandpa's funeral almost four years ago. With over 2,000 miles between us (my sister lives in Tallahasse, Florida and we have a cousin who lives on Manitoulin Island, Ontario), it is nearly impossible for all of us to see each other.
Another cousin is currently working in Lake Louise, Alberta (3,300 miles west of where our reunion took place), so getting together is challenging.
Besides the number of miles, there are just a lot of us. My mom is one of five siblings, and with 16 children between them and 12 additional grandchildren, there are upwards of 48 people (I think) in this one family. How do you bring that many people, that are scattered here and yon, together under one roof? It's a bit of a logistics nightmare.
So this summer, we traveled north. Thirty of the 48 family members were able to connect during a 3-day period (though not everyone overlapped). We visited, swam, jumped off cliffs together, played cards and watched the Olympics.
I have missed this great big family of mine. I have to say that one of the things that brings me the greatest joy in life is seeing other people (especially family) experiencing joy from spending time with my children. I can't explain it, but it makes my heart about burst.
On this trip I loved watching Jack spend time with my nana, my parents, all of his great aunts and uncles, and some of my cousins. I love to see him forming new bonds. I love that he requests to sit with certain people for meals, or his connection to my Uncle Mike and his desire to snorkel with him every chance he could.
I loved seeing Isaac charm everyone and get to meet many of my family for the first time. I wish these get togethers happened more frequently and that I was able to see the cousins who couldn't make it, but I am so grateful for these moments and I am looking forward to future shindigs in years to come (even if it means every other year for us).
Another special part of this year's get together, was celebrating my parent's 40th anniversary and my aunt and uncle's 25th.
Two years ago I wrote about the significance of 25 years of marriage in our family and it is always a blessing to me to see another couple reach this milestone.
My Aunt Bethany and Uncle Chris are the 5th in our family to reach 25 years of marriage. The next to receive our special teapot will be my cousin, Chuck and his wife Kylie, ten years from now. As I wrote previously, "I know it is just a teapot, but it is something to strive for. It is a reminder that people before us have worked through difficulties and carried on in good times and in bad. I feel blessed to have this tradition in our family."
I am so grateful for this big family of mine.
I am grateful for the memories we are creating together and the memories my boys will have to last a lifetime.
I look forward to future trips to Canada and all of the things we have yet to experience.