Love it when we have a reason to gather as family for a celebration. My youngest turned 12 recently. Not the 'big 13,' but still plenty of reason to celebrate. A party with friends was discussed, but it turns out that my pre-teen loves our family gatherings as much as I do and he wanted those near and dear to his heart to share in his special day.
While grandparents are states away and aunts/uncles/cousins aren't much closer, we are lucky to be surrounded by a network of extended family that willingly fill the void. Some of them think nothing of the two (plus) hour drive just to hang out. You have to feel special knowing that family members will go to such lengths JUST to SEE YOU!
Of course, it would be wrong to forget those adopted family members that might not show up on the family pedigree but are the first ones listed on the family contact list. "Uncle Mike" not only shared a good portion of his Saturday taking 'da boys to the gun range, but Mike (as in Suni's Mike) and family returned the next day to give us the rest of their busy weekend.
Every family needs a cousin Beth to keep the family unit tightly knitted. Not only is she the MAIN instigator of most family outings, but she'll beautifully document said event if you put a camera in her hands!
How fortunate we are to develop these treasured relationships, create memories and preserve family stories. Alex Haley penned it beautifully, "In every conceivable manner, the family is the link to our past, the bridge to our future."