My parents celebrated their FIFTIETH wedding anniversary this last summer. We celebrated with the adults a couple months earlier (back HERE), but the actual anniversary was in July and I love that we sure celebrated that thing during our annual reunion at Bear Lake. There are 51 of us all together and 49 of us were there:
(Well, Ashton and Dave were missing from that picture up there because they had to be gone at the time when we took pictures, darn it!) Max and Abby were the only ones missing, and they were on the other side of the world in China. So glad they could have that experience but we sure missed them!
Our numbers are getting so large it’s hard to even see everyone in a picture, so we tried the squishy route…where you can’t see everyone that way either:
Ha! Oh how I love all those people!
We started out, as always, with the OPENING CEREMONIES:
This year my brother Jonah, Aja and their family were in charge (we rotate who’s in charge each year) and they knocked it right out of the park celebrating that GOLDEN anniversary starting with this number:
This is over a minute long, so skip through it a little, but don’t miss the laughing part when I spanned back to everyone behind where I was recording. Makes me happy. Oh, and of course don’t miss the golden dancers. But I’m not sure how you could miss those…ha!:
(Not sure my brother will adore that I shared that, but seriously, it was the best.)
Introduced the schedule of events:
While everyone basked in the glorious golden evening.
Introduced the new reunion T-shirts:
…and here’s a close-up of the calendar of events:
Then it was on to the traditional BONFIRE where we always listen to all the music everyone has sent in (their favorite songs), and we guess who chose which music and end with a dance party.
This year Jonah and Aja switched it up just a little. They had everyone chose a song from one of the fifty years my parents have been married. Everyone came up with some pretty cool songs…might be my fav. reunion playlist.
One thing we did for my parents was get a whole slew of pictures printed out from their fifty years of marriage and make this giant “50” with them.
Loved unveiling it and having those pictures up there through the reunion to help reminisce those grand fifty years and all that these two have done in that time…all the stages and adventures and new babies and new moves and new jobs…all the ups and downs that have made them who they are today.
Let’s get a little closer look:
The first morning activity was to PAINT PORTRAITS OF GRAMMIE AND GRANDFATHER. So my parents sat at the head of this long table and everyone painted portraits to their heart’s content:
Oh my goodness I was sure impressed with all the creativity! Check these out:
Wow, some impressive artists right there I tell you!
Next was our traditional FEAR FACTOR:
Whoever is hosting comes up with all different rounds of crazy foods to eat and the last one standing in the end wins.
There is a love/hate relationship with this tradition I have to say. Always seems to be some tears, but every single kid looks forward to this every year, either to take part or to watch.
These are pickles slathered with peanut butter…one of the first, easy rounds:
I can’t remember what that long, puffy thing is below, but the pink stuff is bacon-flavored cotton candy. Ha!
All kinds of funny tactics to get that stuff down.
I can’t remember who the winner was this year, but it was a brave soul.
Jonah and Aja worked in some nice beach time this year:
Which always results in impromptu discussions about the world.
There are always questions about REUNION FOOD.
Each family takes a meal and whips it up for everyone. We decided to do our honey-lime enchiladas for the meal we were in charge of. This is how it looks to make those for 50 people:
My brother always makes “Jonah Burgers” that everyone goes wild for:
Tal made salmon this year:
Eli always makes his Japanese curry. Charity made lentil tacos that I fell in love with and posted the recipe for (over HERE).
Sometimes a little impromptu discussion before dinner:
Love that there are always babies in these highchairs, sometimes observing the commotion, sometimes making it:
At night we sit out and enjoy the view as we eat, bathed in that beauty-light and good conversations.
Every year the “reunion chairs” come up with different CLEAN-UP methods, and whatever it is, it’s always good to see kids work hard to keep things looking nice around there:
Pretty much always we have EYREALM OLYMPICS:
Comprised of all different races and relays, etc.
This was my fav. race this year:
Love the competitive edge up there! 🙂
Sit ups and push ups…
…and usually some rock-moving and weed-pulling are included to clear out the beach area.
TENNIS is always a big part of the reunion, always mixed doubles:
And dang it, I didn’t take a picture of the chart of who played who, but it was fun to have Elle and Lar (yes Lar came for a little bit of the reunion), Grace and Isaac, as well as my Dad and Claire as a forces to be reckoned with this year:
There was something pretty great about watching my kids out there on that court holding their own with the adults.
Some kids like to watch:
Gotta love these viewing perches:
And others like to get mesmerized by old actual VHS movies while their parents play. This scene cracks me up:
Noah and Kristi were the winners this year. This is how excited Noah was to get the trophy: I think wrist sweat-bands this year:
Oh, and Tal brought out a plate of cheese for the winners and runners-up. He doesn’t mess around with good cheeses. Ha!
Of course, since my dad is such a tennis lover, there’s always a tennis lesson or two wrapped in there.
The annual TALENT SHOW did not disappoint:
I wish I had more pictures, and also the video of Claire, Hazel and Eliza’s skit acting out their mothers (my sisters and I) and all the funny quirky things we do. It was pretty funny I have to say.
Love this one of Elle glowing watching Lu and Bo’s dance:
I adore the EVENINGS at the reunions. All of us parents get the little ones settled down, sometimes with the help of my dad telling Grandfather’s stories:
Then we sit on these almost sacred (at least to us) “talking couches” and either have games or discussions of everything under the sun:
I think that night up there above was “50-year Jeopardy” with all kinds of questions about my parents and all those years they’ve been married.
One night my Dad gathered all the women together for his own little form of MFME (ha!). He got this table all set up for us for candlelight ice cream discussion:
…complete with forks for the ice cream (he never eats ice cream with a spoon). I loved that conversation surrounding that square table with all those strong women and my great dad talking about so many different things.
Other nightly things included trying to soak in things like this:
…and teenagers sneaking over to the other side of the lake for a famous Bear Lake raspberry milkshake run:
And then it was time for the final AWARDS CEREMONY to close up the official reunion:
Yep, those are real-life humongous pictures hanging on the porch up there. And yes, that one on the right made the list for “awkward family photos” years ago. Pretty funny, right? Those banners were used in my dad’s run for governor campaign years ago. Maybe that tree one is the reason he didn’t win. Haha. Anyway, perfect backdrop for celebrating fifty years 🙂
Everyone was pretty delighted to receive all kinds of different awards to close off the reunion.
But these guys deserved the biggest award of all for putting it all together:
Hooray for all the effort that goes into putting on that shin-dig, it’s not easy! But it sure is fun (as we know from experience). So grateful for all they did to make it so great! Thank you Jo, Aja, Ana, Cam, Elsie, Poem and Ezra, you guys rock!
The sun set on the reunion…
But not on our time at Bear Lake! We all try to arrive early and linger as long as we can after the official reunion because we cannot get enough of that place.
Some favorite moments not pictured:
I was overcome this year thinking about how many discussions have come from those sacred “talking couches” I have mentioned a few times before. It hit me more than ever this year that the majority of the discussions we have there circle back around to the gospel. Not the church, but Christ’s gospel and how we are striving to live it. I’m so grateful for the open communication we’ve always had when it comes to faith and beliefs. Made me renew my desire to have these kinds of talks more often with my own little family.
Going to bed SO LATE, unable to pull myself away from the whir of the Bosche mixing up cookies (every single night) and the lure of the talking couches.
Sunset on the beach with just my girls and Lar, pink above, gray glass reflecting, feeling triumphant after taking the boat out on my own and putting it back again at the end of the day accompanied by my kids and the soft evening light filling up the air around us.
I miss my babies, but there was also something incredibly beautiful about having older kids at the lake. Especially older kids who I realized have a growing grasp on how lucky they are to be there. Love that Elle and Lar made the trek up twice (with an intermission for work) because Elle just adores that place so much. Even Lucy, the girl who has to be talked into going anywhere any time couldn’t WAIT to get there. She feels the sacredness of that place and those cousins who are so good to her.
Hot kitchen, many hands at work chopping and cooking.
Grandfather’s “women of Eyrealm candlelight ice cream night” was one of my favorite nights along with our MFME dinner on the other side of the lake before the reunion (more on that with the rest of the Bear Lake highlights). Both nights talking until late about depth and triumphs and women. It is times like these when I wonder at how I could ever get so lucky to call those two as well as all those women mine.
Thinking of all the goodness and light these two have created together, and about what they have done to lasso and share and spread that light so intentionally just makes me grateful a million times over that these two found each other and fell in love all those years ago.
Thank you mom and dad.
Love you forever.