Christmas was a whirlwind. With Thanksgiving so late, it came and went faster than I could imagine. Last year was marked by stress and serious illness. This year, we had much to celebrate.
A Taylor Family Christmas
First up was the gathering with my family on Sunday evening. The Taylor Clan gathered at the family home in Gray Court, and most of us were able to be there. At least all of my siblings were there…
…as were all of the grand and great-grandkids. We had a new little one joining us, Jack Marshall. It was the first time we had met Katie and Aaron’s little one.
Because there are so many of us, the Taylor gatherings tend to be chaotic. The evening always starts with lots of food, but first with expressing our thanks for the blessings of the previous year.
We were especially thankful that Mom was recovering from her bad fall and was able to join us. She was even able to walk up and down the stairs at the house, albeit with some assistance.
Our family has always been musical. So, for Christmas we always sing carols. This year was no exception. We sang as a family, then several pulled out guitars and continued with solos and duets. We were happy that Mom took the piano for a bit.
Not only is there lots of music, but lots of photography. Everyone is armed with a camera, and everyone is taking photos, sometimes the same shot. It’s not like we share photos or anything.
It was a great time with my family. I love getting together with them, and it’s always great following through with the traditions we have developed over the years. Here are the rest of the photos from the evening:
A Wright Family Christmas
Laura and I left the Taylor gathering early evening to get a head start down for her family gathering in Florida. We made it as far as Orangeburg before finding a place to stay. That put us ahead of an on-coming front, so we were able to drive the rest of the way down the next day with no problems.
When we arrived in Fort Pierce it was hot and a bit rainy. We spent Christmas Eve running a few last minute errands, but when the big day came, we were ready.
Laura’s family loves to unwrap stuff. The presents don’t need to be big and expensive, but just have to be wrapped – socks, candy, just about anything will do. This year we implemented a new rule – only four packages per person. Yet, they still left lots of leeway. I had four packages for Laura, as did Amy. So the overall package count was still high. Then there were the loopholes – four packages from the cats, four packages from Santa, packing more than one item per packaged, etc. I could see how this could get out of hand unless some additional rules were implemented. We decided to do stockings for the silly little things that they usually wrapped at put under the tree.
It was still an unwrapping frenzy, but it was great fun. Everyone got something that they really liked. Laura got new ear rings, and I got a new lens for my camera.
My new lens is a Nikon 35mm f/1.8 prime lens. I’ve got a 50mm prime, but this one gives me a wider angle. It’s going to be perfect for low-light landscapes and time lapse sequences. I snapped a few shots of Amy’s interesting ornaments.
Here’s a comparison…the top image was taken with my Panasonic Lumix on macro, and the bottom image with the new lens. I love the sharpness of the new lens and the bokeh.
It wouldn’t be Christmas in Florida without at least one paddling trip. After we got the gifts squared away I swiped Amy’s kayak and headed out into the Indian River. The sun was shining, but the breeze was up a bit. I didn’t head to far out into the channel, but decided to explore the channel across the street from Amy’s house. It seemed much more overgrown than the last time I was out. When I got to the end of the channel, something large submerged leaving bubbles in its wake. Could have been a manatee, or it could have been a gator. I didn’t stick around to find out. I kept the trip short and headed on back to the house.
The Wright Family is much smaller than the Taylor family, so things tend to be much more subdued, but no less fun. We had our evening meal with turkey and all the fixings, and had a great day of it. Here are the photos from that gathering:
So, to very different family gatherings, but two excellent gatherings nonetheless. So far, the holiday season has been quite nice.