Posts Tagged With: extended family

 
 

Catching a Little Action at the Auction

My family tree spreads its branches wide and provides plenty of shade for camping under. I always feel welcomed and loved and part of something wonderful when I get together with extended family for a reunion.

Raising funds to put on a family reunion takes all sorts of creativity and finagling.

My mom’s side of the family came up with a fun idea. In fact, it’s one of the highlights of our extended weekend together.

We put on an auction.

We encourage everyone to contribute something for the auction. The highest selling items tend towards handcrafted or sentimental items. A framed photo of Grandma and Grandpa, their kids and the grandparents going back a couple of generations brought in a hefty chunk of change. A pair of earrings Grandma owned and wore went on the auction block one year I couldn’t attend. I had my cousin bid on them for me via text and I won! That’s the most I’ve ever paid for earrings.

To save time and potential heartbreak, there’s a separate children’s table with donated, pre-priced items the kids can simply buy, no bidding required. Candy and whirligigs, water pistols, jewelry, slingshots, whistles, crayons, balls, more candy. Almost anything that appeals to a child might magically appear in the children’s store.

Cousins and Aunts often bring homemade jars of apple pie filling, salsa and pickles. Those sell for way more than you’d ever pay in the store, but are worth the price. Aunt Judy always sews up something fun, like holiday pillowcases or seasonal aprons. Uncle Farrell made a CD of patriot songs he’d written and sold those one year. A cousin brought a freestanding cabinet he made by hand. And arriving by mail from Hawaii, a painting by my cousin’s wife, stirred up quite the bidding war last year. I’m hoping she sends or brings another one this year.

We even auction off the leftover unopened food items. We’re a thrifty bunch. We’re also a crafty, talented, versatile, generous group of people. I love hanging out with extended family.

My contributions are usually less stellar than most, but I try to bring a few handmade items. This year I tried something I saw in the craft store. It’s a tablecloth.

Here it is. Ta da!

Ta da!

Ta da!

Yup, it’s made of bandanas. Cute, yes? Add some denim napkins tied up with twine, and wildflower filled vase and you have a fun western themed table.

I’ve actually made two. The first one helped me use up all the bandanas I had around the house. Yes, I admit it, I had over twenty-five bandanas in a drawer. I’d bought some to donate to a homeless cause one year and missed the drop off date.  I also buy them randomly when I’m headed out on a camping adventure.

I didn’t have instructions on how to make the thing, just a picture of what it should look like when finished.  As you can imagine I made a mistake or three and had to unpick and resew more than a few times. But it turned out okay. Okay enough for me to use at home, or on a picnic or at the reunion. But not okay enough to put in the auction.

So, I ordered a batch of bandanas from Amazon, washed them up, cut them out and put a color coordinated, pattern matching, auction worthy tablecloth together. Which is the one pictured above. I hope people like it. I hope the bidding gets a teensy bit exciting. If not, I could bid on it myself and give it as a gift, or turn it into a quilt.

If I did this again I’d use whole bandanas and just sew those together. Way easier and faster, although not as cute.

I can’t wait for the reunion. It’s one of the highlights of my year. I’ve got my auction money stashed and waiting. Will there be a painting again? If I win a jar of salsa can I smuggle it home on the plane? Will Aunt Betty’s sayings be memorialized on t-shirts this year?

I’ll have to let you know how it all plays out. It’s sure to entertain us all.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Learning to Share Again and Again

Friday Letter to my Kids – Nov 28, 2014

Dear J, J, L and L,

Your Dad and I just spent the quietest Thanksgiving Day ever. Just the two of us, here at home, no big dinner, no outings, no football. I don’t say that with any negativity whatsoever! No, I actually really enjoyed it. We slept in. I wrote some, made homemade caramels, listened to an audio book, went on an evening walk, put up the outside Christmas lights with your Dad and generally enjoyed a slow day sitting in my porch swing every chance I got.

By Rennett Stowe from USA (Walking in Yosemite  Uploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Rennett Stowe from USA (Walking in Yosemite Uploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

All that was okay because we had our Thanksgiving Dinner/Day last Friday with little J and family in town for a visit. The day felt every single bit like all of our other Thanksgiving days. I spent the day before baking more pies than we can eat. I planned out a schedule for getting all the food cooked and hot at the same time. Littles ran around and fussed and napped. We hung out and talked and reminisced and laughed and snacked until the food finally, finally, finally was ready for the table.

With all that perfection six days early, we didn’t need some imitation version with just the two of us, or some random group of people. I felt such immense gratitude that day that it’s carried me through an entire week.

My only regret found purchase on the niggling fact of little L’s absence. We should have Skyped with you. But I worried it might make you feel a little sad to not be part of things. I should have done it anyway.

It’s part of the sharing thing I seem to have to keep learning, I suppose.

You all used to feel like mine, all mine. I didn’t have to share you with anyone. Which I really liked. But then each of you fell in love, got whisked away by it and began your own families. Which I always dreamed you’d do.

I find it ironic that what we really want for someone often carries with it a kind of backwash of sorrow.

I love that you’re each so loved and so in love. That some of you have started sharing that love with little ones of your own makes my life exponentially grander, brighter and so joyous I can hardly contain it. Nothing makes a parent happier than to see their children truly happy.

Part of that happiness means I have to share you with that person you fell in love with. And, even more so, I get to share you with your beloved’s family. In fact, you became part of their family as much as you’re part of ours.

That all means sharing you for holidays, without being insistent or demanding or childish about where you choose to spend that time. I accept whatever arrangements your life requires because of love. But my acceptance doesn’t make me miss you less, or make all our shared times from the past any less valued.

Apparently, that’s the way it’s all supposed to happen.

This photo is part of National Photo Company Collection (Library of Congress)

This photo is part of National Photo Company Collection (Library of Congress)

We start out learning to share our toys, our dolls or dump trucks, moving on to sharing a bedroom and clothes and parental love with siblings. As we grow we learn the hard lessons of sharing among friends and that girl boy messiness. We learn to share our time, our means, our dreams. We share what gifts we came with and those gifts we’ve learned so we can see joy on others faces. Hopefully the learning curve of sharing lets us give within a marriage sufficient to meld two souls into something stunning. And then, after raising a family with all its requisite sharing, you think you’re done, you’ve shared enough. But the sharing goes on as you give away those precious ones to a life separate from your own.

I never would have guessed at the abundance that comes from sharing. Even coming from what often seems like almost nothing, sharing happens and leaves in its place an exquisite gift.

Yes. I miss you when you aren’t here for holidays, or family dinners, or any of the other whatevers. But knowing that you’re happy makes all the difference. Know that I’m happy even in the missing of you.

I hope you find the holiday season extra bright this year.

All my love,

Mom

~~~~~

 “Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness; it has no taste.” ~Charlotte Bronte

Categories: Friday Letters | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Short Days, Cold Nights

Nothing brings more joy and light into my home than a visit from one of my children. When they bring along their littles and a spouse, even better. The house nearly sings with baby giggles and cries, bubbles over with stories reminisced and glows with the warmth of family relationships rekindled and renewed.

And then all too soon, the vacation time ends. Farewells, hugs, goodbyes all around.

On the very day that lovely family visit draws to a close I feel a bit like a candle blown out, wisps of grey smoke trailing off in the chill morning air. I grasp hold of sweet moments, memories made, review photos snapped, hold close a blanket that snuggled a little one.

Winter light.

Winter light.

But warmth and joy elude me today. It’s like winter sun shining through a screened window. All light and no heat. Odd angles and too much brightness.

photo 3-4 copy 21

Bright but not very warm.

Instead I want to close the blinds and wallow in the shadows for just one day. One day to wish for lost days from years ago. One day to dream of living close to all the birds that have flown. One day to compare the silence to the noise and cherish both, oddly juxtaposed at strange angles.

A glass table adding dimension to the shadow.

A glass table adding dimension to the shadow.

Just for today I’ll mourn all my yesterdays. Tomorrow I’ll be glad again that I’m on this side of it all. I will. I’m certain of it.

At least, I hope so.

Categories: Family, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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