Wednesday, January 13, 2010

We Are Family

At this point if you haven't seen the quote "All because two people fell in love..." written on a wood sign or in vinyl lettering somewhere you must be living under a rock. The statement though is an interesting one to think about.

Because Dennis Huntington fell in love with Beverly Jean Gardner, generations will enjoy annual camping trips to Whiskeytown Lake, they will drive hours just to spend a meal together on any given holiday, and all will know exactly what it is to be loved. One look at my grandma, below and you know she knows...

They have cultivated relationships with their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren that have brought all of us together, always. All we need is the excuse of a holiday and we are are trying to figure out how to get everyone to the same location at the same time. These are my people, my family. My aunts, uncles, and cousins are my friends. We are close not just because we're family, we actually like each other.

I think it's fascinating to learn about peoples families. As you understand where someone comes from you understand them a bit better. So, don't you think it's about time for some introductions?

Since I've already introduced you to my grandpa here, I'll tell you a little about my grandma. She had two brothers who both passed away when they were young and was raised essentially as an only child. She couldn't wait to have a big family, and it would be impossible for her children to count how many times they were told how lucky they were to have each other. My grandma loves to read and I have loved getting her hand-me-downs from her book clubs over the years. She loves good food and never met a card game she didn't like. And before you call me the biggest neat freak ever, you need to meet my grandma. She takes the cake on that one. Promise. Right now her favorite thing to do is cruise the world with my grandpa and her cousins who are like sisters to her. They have quite literally played cards all over the world, but her heart and her pride all lie in her family, and there isn't anyone who would dare say differently.

Debbie is the oldest child, but maybe she'd rather I called her the first born instead of using the O word..? Actually anything is better than what she was almost named, Gaynell. What do you think? Debbie is so much fun! She has taught kindergarten and first grade for years and I wish my kids could have been so lucky as to be in one of her classes. Debbie also loves to read and she has the most infectious laugh, often it starts as a giggle with a hand over her mouth and then grows from there. You can't help but join in. She is a great shopping partner and although avoiding risks at all costs, she is always up for an adventure.
Rick is our resident tough guy, but don't let the muscles and Portugese glare scare you off. He is a softy at heart. He has taken countless kids under his wing and helped them to reach their potential on the field and in life. If the family gatherings are ever overwhelming you just slide on over next to Rick and wait for the one liners to start rolling. He's not one to ever cause any ripples but if you ask him what he thinks, he'll tell ya, and I promise, you'll laugh!

Their oldest Nicole is just a few months younger than me and her sister Melissa is just a few months younger than Tara. The four of us were inseparable when we were younger. We loved to play school and Nicole and I would always change our names to Kelly and Kathy... The four of us could always be counted on for getting all dolled up and then keeping an eye out for cute boys. I don't think in all those years we ever found one, but I do remember one boy flipping over the front of his handlebars because he was so busy doing a double take and waving at my cousin that he didn't notice the curb! Now that those days are in the past Nicole spends her time teaching like her mom and taking care of her darling little one Kate and her hubby Jason.

Melissa is an amazing artist, she paints, draws, sculpts and takes pictures. She has been patiently teaching me little things about my new Mac computer and my camera over the last year and I'm sure has loved seeing me finally agreee that a Mac is the way to go. Their family has always known this little fact... Melissa is an awesome mom to Sequoia who turns 8 in about a week. Sequoia is years older than her age would suggest, has a mind of her own, and loves to spend time with her cousins and fishing with my dad.

Then there's my mom and dad. They met when my mom was 14 and my dad was 16 at a big youth activity for the church. While they each had a few others that they dated during high school and college, they are definitely high school sweethearts. My dad has been considered a part of my moms family since not long after they met.
My mom is forever realistic. She sees things so plainly in black and white and always knows just how to handle any situation. She can do anything and fix anything. She is athletic and strong. She spends most of her time doing things for everyone but herself. She has strong convictions and you will always know where she stands. While she is happily my most regular shopping partner she prefers to be up in the mountains quite literally in the middle of nowhere with a backpack and a compass. We always tease that if she and I were cereals she would be granola, all the good hearty stuff and I would be Cap'n Crunch all the sweet fluffy stuff. As opposite as we are, I would be lost without her. She is my rock. Our friendship has existed longer than we have been on this earth, of that I am certain.
My dad. Where to start? With the fact that I still like to call him daddy? That while I am all grown up I know I'll always be his little girl, and that I take great comfort in that? While my voice is kinda low and a little raspy like my moms, I have my dads nose, mouth, and the exact same build as him. We both think much more with our hearts than our heads. He tells the best stories you will ever hear. When he speaks to an audience or teaches a class he makes you FEEL whatever he is telling you about. He draws you in and you never want it to end. No one is better than him at this. I could sit and listen to him sing and play his guitar for hours. He was always much better at curling my hair when I was little than my mom was. For years while I was a gymnast he would come in and massage my aching muscles and listen to me tell about my day. My dad always enjoys a good romantic comedy and loves to run. He LOVES being a grandpa and when he is home he likes to pick the kids up after school and often invites the kids over for sleepovers. Just being around him makes me happy!
I am the oldest of all the grandchildren

I am incredibly grateful that my kids have the opportunity to spend so much time with my grandparents. Wes loves playing games with Grandma and flying in Grandpas airplanes or going to the monster truck shows or motocross races with them in their RV.

Tara. A force to be reckoned with. Never was there a more loyal sister. She is so beautiful its not always fun to take pictures with her, everyone else seems to look so plain in comparison. She has always been this way, the neighbors used to borrow her to entertain their company. Tara is independent, and tells you just what she thinks. She needs her sleep at night, but get her just a little bit sleep deprived and you wont find two funnier people to laugh at or laugh with than the two of us. Tara loves with her whole heart and is the best friend. She is an awesome running partner, if we could just get our knees working again. Tara knows how to have a good time and loves getting everyone together. I am lucky to call her sister and friend. I know that she will ALWAYS be there for me, and she loves me in spite of myself.
Her other half Jason is just as amazing as she is. His mind works a lot like mine does and I thoroughly enjoy just chatting with him. Everyone does. Jason can hang with what I call "dudes" or intellectuals and blend in either way and they all love him. He is a devoted friend and father. Best of all he makes my sister happier than I have ever known her to be.

Billy is the brother everyone wishes they had. Billy can always make me smile, and I cherish whatever time I have with him. He thinks like my mom and loves to figure everything out on his own, in his own way. He started his own little business building and selling computers while he was still in high school. He also taught himself to play the piano at about the same time. He is an excellent cook and undisputedly makes the best cookies in our whole family and we have some pretty serious cookie making skills. Billy is a natural leader who others are constantly looking to for advise and direction. After his mission and before he got married while he was at BYU we would talk on the phone at least every couple of days. I often feel like he is my older brother rather than being 4 years younger than me. He is a devoted dad and husband.
Billy's wife's name is Jennifer Lynn. The only difference between her married name and my maiden name is one more"n" in her first name than mine. Crazy huh? She is kind and loving, a talented musician, and has the most incredible gift in connecting with people. She can also dance like nobody's business! That girl can move! They are expecting another little girl in April. I can't imagine another one as cute as my little niece Britta (look for family pics in an upcoming post)
Sterling is the baby of our family and 8 years younger than me. My mom says she thinks he is probably the smartest of all her children. Sterling is the worlds most fun uncle. The kids can't wait to hang out with him. Sterling is going to BYU right now and works on campus and for my brother in law Peter doing computer stuff. Yes, I realize that last sentence shows my ignorance on the subject, but really, I totally don't know exactly what they do, I just know they are good at it! Sterlings wife is probably smarter than he is. Katie is a scientist and awesome with details, and I really don't understand what it is she does. It's way over my head! I just know that she is easy going, lots of fun and so good for my brother.

My uncle Steve is awesome. I have memories of running away scared of him when I was younger. He loved to tease us and lift us with his hand on our stomach and hold us up to the ceiling. Steve was an awesome pole vaulter when he was in school. He loves the outdoors and is brilliant. I love his witty sense of humor and the way he always can sell you on what he thinks. His wife Michelle is the best. She is much quieter than the rest of the family, but just as fun. She has amazing taste in EVERYTHING! She also loves to shop as much as I do. If the two of us lived close enough to share a closet we would have way too much fun!

Their son Chris, my cousin, is just less than a year older than Wes. They love to hang out together! When we get together they are usually trying to figure out how they can negotiate a few more days together which involves a swap somewhere between Sacramento and Fresno, but it's worth it if we can find the time.

So because Dennis Huntington fell in love with Beverly Gardner, I spent Christmas Day with these people and I will every year that I possibly can. These are my people. This is my Family.

*Missing from the introductions here are Diane and her family, Darrell and his family, my sister Janelle and her family. These guys were on their way to or already in Utah for Christmas Day. I'll have to introduce them next time.


Aaron and Devon said...

I just loved reading your introductions of the family. You writing style is so fun and entertaining. Isn't it great to have such a wonderful family that like you said- really like each other. I miss you guys and love it when you come into town.

Tawna said...

Jen I love this. I almost started to cry when I read what you wrote about your Mom. I sure do love our whole family and feel like one of the luckiest and most blest persons on earth! (Is that good grammar? Who knows.) Love you!