Monday, November 10, 2014

The Blessing of Cousins

In collaboration with Patience Brewster, a small town, family oriented brand, I decided to share a special family photo memory in honor of the upcoming holidays, my 2 favorite ~ Thanksgiving & Christmas.  Patience is an artist, and illustrator of children's books, greeting cards and a designer of delightful Christmas ornaments & gifts.
Since I am such a person of sentimental nature, I had fun with this one. My mind flew to several incidents that always fly to the top of the memories list, the aforementioned dollhouse (best Christmas gift ever) and the Christmas that accompanied it...the Christmas trip to visit my parents in South Carolina where during the holiday fireworks, my Lowell asked me to be his wife...The Thanksgiving we spent at the beach right after a tragic breakup.  My uncles Nate and Ira were at that one.....Sadly there are not many if any photos of those events.  As I browsed through the photos on my computer I thought surely something would strike me, but not till the middle of the night several weeks later,  as I helped one of my children did something hit me like a bolt of lightening and I knew right where the favorite photo was.
I was blessed to grow up in a family where my parents both came from large families, Dad from 19 (yes you read that twins, same mom and dad) and Mom came from 11.  Both were of the Amish faith but since more of mom's family stayed Amish, I ended up with more cousins on that side (close to 70) though the grand total of both sides is well over 100 first cousins.  Because of the fact that my parents chose to leave the Amish faith we did not grow up knowing many of the cousins whose families stayed.  We would see them every couple of years if we were lucky. A few years back that began to change.  As they grew up many of the cousins also left the Amish faith, making our ability to interact on a more regular level possible.  We live all over, spread from Kansas to Canada, Missouri to Pennsylvania, Iowa to South Carolina.  All except for a handful of us showed up at my Grandmother's funeral in May of this year.  Reconnecting was a blast.
Anyhow, back to my photo....  A few years back my cousin John opened his home to us all and thus began the tradition of the yearly gathering of the Wagler cousins.  So far there have never been even half of us show up, but the ones that do have a lot of fun.  Quite a few of us have children so there are lots of happy squeals of the rambunctious 3rd generation Waglers chasing each other around the house.  We sit, talk loudly and quickly in typical Wagler fashion, eat sentimental foods like Mommy's stuffing and Pumkin Custard, and argue politics, play games, and sing lots as there are quite a few guitar and banjo players as well as singers in the group. Last year was my first time being a part of the fun and I pestered everyone to no end, gathering all sorts of groupings of people for family photos that we can treasure for years to come.  I am so glad I did.  My album is full of various poses and groups many including my precious Abby who had a blast with her little look alike 2nd cousin, Vidalia.  We are a rowdy tribe, these cousins of mine. And while live miles apart and don't see eye to eye on everything, most of us buy up every book we see, enjoy antiques and browsing auctions, and enjoy arguing around with our peculiar, just like us cousins.
 Truly in my list of blessings, my cousins definitely make the cut!
This photo from last year was taken inside John's beautiful home after we came in from taking our photo outside in front of an old rusty wall we all fell in love with (sadly I can't see everyone's faces on that set)

2 of my mother's siblings were also present and they along with the 
fine folks in this photo represent 5 of the 11 children of David & Ida Mae Wagler.
Aren't we a handsome bunch?  
Counting down the days to this years gathering....

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