I have vivid memories of falling in love with Cole over a game of peek a boo in the backseat of the car while Alison and Anna ran in the store for a turkey, of feeling so warmly invited by Robert and Taido into what i would later call the spouses club, of Anna doing crazy things in the kitchen..the food was a spectacle the like of which i had never seen and involved a hand cranked apple/potato peeler and more potatoes than I had ever seen, of taking family photos that I was never sure if I should be in, games of Scattergorries, looking through Anna and Robert's first home that they had just bought and going to sleep at night in the house that they now own (funny story), Alison being so warm and having no memories of an awkward experience we had had years earlier as she was my small group leader, painting pottery, eating clam dip, being struck by the way Julie and Craig had lead this family and experiencing a family that prayed together and for each other and was deeply connected to the calling on their lives. I really fell in love with Peter on this trip as I watched him with these people and imagined our lives together as a part of this big family.
The following year we were married and since then I have had the pleasure of becoming a part of this family. We have shared many memories and many Thanksgivings. There is not one time that we are all together that I don't think about that first Thanksgiving. Before the Chino's left for Scotland we had a week together. We are still a big group, much bigger, and filled with strong personalities, 17 of them, and that isn't always pretty or perfect, but it is filled with such incredible love. I am deeply grateful for these people, my people, and the memory of this week we shared. It might be a while before we are all together again, so I am taking note and keeping the memories tucked away just like I did 15 years ago. It was another week of great food, coffee on the porch, kids everywhere, diamond mining, lake swimming, tears and laughter, booty dances, games of animals, ice cream, pictures in the 100 degree heat, and on and on. Until we are all together again I will hold tight to these sweet times.