Here we have my dad's family. He is the youngest of four and the only boy. Looks identical to his father, and acts more and more like him the older he gets. You can imagine how much his father expected from him with him being the only boy and all. If you've ever wondered where he gets his strictness from - now you know!
And now we have their mates. (we took every kind of picture you can imagine - starting with Papa Bill and Mama Billie and then adding on to the family until we had everyone, 4 generations, in the picture... i won't show you all of them - don't worry!)
Grandchildren! These are my wonderful cousins (minus one) - we [Brandon, Casie and I] are the youngest of the bunch except for one cousin (in blue) a year younger than casie. Six of the grandchildren are married and have started their own families.... the next picture in line after this one would add in their mates and children, but we'll just stop here.
With the family growing we've had to make some changes for gift exchanging every year. A few years ago we started drawing names out of a hat so that each person only had to buy one gift. It definitely took a load off and eliminated a lot of stress. This year we are trying something new. We are doing Dirty Santa. Once again you are only asked to bring one gift - no gag ones of course! You buy for your gender and write Male or Female on the present. We'll play by the regular rules of the game - first person goes and selects a gift (matching their gender), opens it infront of everyone, then the second person can choose to steal their gift or select another from underneath the tree... all the way down until the last person in the circle.
I'm actually excited about this. I have to admit it was much easier to buy for an unknown female instead of trying to guess what my cousin/aunt/uncle from over 300 miles would enjoy, want, or need this Christmas. It's hard to buy for someone that you only speak to a few times a year. It just seems more practical this way. And i honestly think we may learn more about each other by watching which gifts people fight for and which ones they choose to pass up. It should be a fun bonding experience - one that is MUCH needed.
I cheated. I wrote this a few days ago and scheduled it to go off on the appropriate day. The rest of my dad's family lives in mississippi - pretty much right down the road from each other. They are all very close and familair with each other. We are the Texans who come in once (maybe twice) a year. You can clearly tell that we are outcasts when we have a family get together. He's been working on my heart with this issue for a few weeks now. I've set out to let my guard down and let my family in this year. I will step out of my comfort zone and be loving to these people. Instead of waiting on them to make a move, i will make the initiative. So no computer for a few days - my spare time will be spent trying to love people.
I want a Dan In Real Life family - can anyone say amen?
So with that said - i covet your prayers for this weekend.
What are your family traditions? Do have you any funny exciting stories to share? Do you have a really close family? What kinds of things do you do to bond with your relatives? I would love to hear about it....
And none of them read this blog - in case you are wondering about me spilling my heart!