Monday, December 7, 2009

Smile for the Camera, 19th Edition--THE GIFT

The word prompt for the 19th Edition of Smile For The Camera is "Gift." It is the holiday season and a time for giving. So give Smile readers the gift of sharing, sharing a family photograph. It can be a gift given or received, it can be the gift of talent, it can be the gift of having the photograph itself. The interpretation of gift is yours.

Like most, as a child, I valued those wonderful Christmas gifts that appeared under the tree each Christmas Eve and joyously opened on Christmas Day. Occasionally, as the older sibling, the toys that my two brothers received often interested me more than my own ;-)

When married, I often marveled at my husband’s sizeable extended family. Each summer the Smith side would have reunions—something quite foreign to me. Huge numbers would gather, some traveling from other states, to enjoy each others company, share old family tales, eat some fabulous home cookin’ and challenge each other with various games. There was always a softball game and my personal favorite BINGO. The prizes were donated by the family, some purchased…some homemade crafts and given to the oldest, youngest and member who had come from far away as well as to the many winners of the Bingo games. This special day was always greatly anticipated by me each year.

1961 Hughes Family Gathering
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Once I asked my Mom why our family never had reunions or more accurately, “Where IS our family?” All the extended family I ever knew was my three grandparents, two aunts, two uncles and eight cousins. Mind you we rarely even saw our Michigan Hughes family, which pretty much limited my “having seen and known” relations to about six or seven. Pretty pitiful!

In the 1990’s, when I began my genealogical search, I was amazed to discover that I did have an extended family on my mother’s side. Her comment about there being no family on her side of the tree was, to say the least, untrue. She had a wealth of cousins, who had children—I had second cousins!

My generation corrected the gap between the Pittsburgh and Farmington Hills, Michigan Hughes cousins. We now gather for family events or visits whenever possible during the year. They are a true blessing in my life.

Where all this is leading is to is the blog’s topic--“The Gift.”

The Hughes Family Gathers for Megan's Wedding
Silver Spring, Maryland
Fall, 2008

Over the years, as I began to locate and communicate with some of my extended family, I have come to realize that the most cherished gift ever given to me is MY FAMILY. Those I only know as Internet acquaintances and those who I delight in spending time with.

I actually stretch my family to also include those close personal friends—they are like family after all. MY FAMILY—immediate, extended, all sides of the genealogical tree, close friends—MY FAVORITE GIFT.

A visit to the Hartlepool Hughes Family
Hartlepool, England
August, 2003

The Southern Funderburg Family
Waterproof, Louisiana
May, 2005

Hughes Family New Year's Gathering
2005 & 2006

Hughes Family Gathers for the Funeral of
George VanGilder Hughes
September 11, 2007