Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ponte Vedra Beach Resort

Heather's family has been staying at the Ponte Vedra Beach Resorts just south of Jacksonville Florida for the past 30+ years every Easter. The resort lists the event as their family reunion...but in reality it is so much more than that. Heather's family spends time together through this interaction in a way that I can only hope we are able to maintain throughout the years. The different families spend time together intentionally and that has led to a lot of fun interactions. You can see my brother-in-law Kevin trash talking my 16 year old cousin, for example, on Facebook.

As a kid, we didn't have family reunions. Sure, we got together with family consistently at Christmas or Easter...but those were often just a short lived couple of hours. I fondly remember a family reunion of sort with my mom's side of the family as we all got cabins somewhere and spent time together. I remember playing basketball with my Uncle Paul...but that was now so long ago. Unfortunately, through moving away from Pittsburgh I have lost touch with so much of my own family. The only one I still keep in touch with is my Uncle Paul, who since Anna was born has visited us about four times. In the past couple days, my Aunt Carol and I have again been in touch exchanging emails. Beyond that, there is no and never has been to my knowledge significant regular time spent together.

Heather's family is fortunate to be able to spend that time together. Most of Heather's father's siblings and their families spend Thursday to Monday every Easter at Ponte Vedra. Since I have joined the family, they have done nothing but welcomed me into their family and treated me like I belonged there. We always look forward to this trip every year and I am happy that the time has come again this year. What is really neat is that Heather's cousins are some of the closest family we have. Two of her cousins have been having kids at the same time as us. You can see pictures of Heather's cousin Lauren and daughter Katrinca visiting when Anna was young and was the catalyst for her beginning to crawl. We also visited them this past November and had a great time. Another cousin has lent us maternity clothes and gear like a playmat and excer-saucer.

Ponte Vedra is not the only time we spend with Heather's extended family. We used to see them at Thanksgivings and Christmases, although since her grandfather passed on that does not happen anymore. Since then, there is a big gathering every New Year's. Also, the female aunts and cousins all go to NYC every summer together and see a show and shop. We also have traveled to Europe together and some of the other family has traveled to New Zealand and other places together. But, none of those are as significant as Ponte Vedra. I am not sure those trips would happen without Ponte Vedra as I really believe that these relationships would not be nearly as strong if this "family reunion" at Ponte Vedra did not happen every year. This is why we really look forward to it and why we are thrilled to be there once again this Easter.

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