Yesterday afternoon the immediate family gathered at Casa de One Carbon Hill to help Punkin celebrate her quickly approaching fifth birthday. Sixteen brave souls (plus the four of us) put on their happy faces as we forced them to get cozy in our less than spacious home due to uncooperative weather conditions. Although the day was all about Princess Punkin, at the end of the night I was left - not for the first time - with one resounding thought: I am so incredibly lucky to be have such an amazing group of people as family.
I know from hearing horror stories of others how blessed we are to have families that get along so easily. The fact that my parents and The General's parents knew each other long before the two of us were married probably helps, but it is not lost on me how seamlessly my side of the family and his side of the family are able to gel. And even within a family it's sometimes taken for granted how well everyone is able to get along. I love that we can throw insults at each other over a fierce game of Euchre without fear that someone will be offended, share funny stories about the crazy situations we get into, sit at a table and swap advice, and laugh until our sides ache. The ease with which we're able to interact comes so naturally. These people are so much more than family; they are my friends.
Our girls benefit in every way from the close bonds that our families share and continue to foster this phenomenon with their own cousins. The ten kids played so nicely together and I heard more than one person comment on how well behaved they were. Given the fact that they were basically sequestered to two small bedrooms, I would have expected a least a few moments of chaos, but they were angels. Every single one of them. Those cousins love each other so much, and it brings me unspeakable amounts of joy to watch them grow up together. In addition to that, it is not lost on me how lucky Shortcake and Punkin are that they are able to have three amazing great-grandparents as part of their lives. That they are able to know and love their great-grandparents is such a gift. In a day full of laughs, they were responsible for some of my fondest memories from yesterday's gathering.
Thank you to all of you who were there yesterday. You made one birthday girl so very happy with your presence and her mama so filled with love. To the one in Egypt and the one fixing docks - we wish you could have been there. To the one watching from Heaven, I know you were smiling down on us yesterday. And to the one who wasn't able to make it because of her conflicting work schedule (and not at all related to a lack of invitation), don't worry. There were plenty of angry midget stories told in your honor.