Thankfully, this trip was different! When we arrived in New Jersey, we were greeted by my brother and niece ( his daughter ) and were whisked off to the family "compound" to begin the first of 5 days of absolute enjoyment. The reason I use compound is not because his home sits on a huge estate, although it is complete with a basketball court and in ground pool all in a park-like setting, I use compound because there were 12 of us in the house (not counting the two dogs). No question, at times it was tight, especially on mornings with everyone trying to get ready for the day, but I wouldn't have traded the time I was there for anything else. Our group consisted of three generations of people that spanned from 22 to 89 years of age with a combined total of over 450 years yet with all of the differences we all felt the same; we are all family, we're all one.
Besides the national holiday we were also celebrating a 52nd birthday and a 30th wedding anniversary so there was always some reason to continue the party. I'm sure I gained a few pounds with all the food we ate, we swam together, we played games together, we watched baseball together, we reminisced about the ones that are no longer with us, we laughed, laughed, and laughed some more. We went to Atlantic City one day and donated some of our money to the city through it's fine casino's. There was mention of a wedding; but that was only talk. Most of what we did was talk. It seemed as if everyone of us needed this gathering to help us remember what's truly important in this life. We are a family. For me, there is nothing in the world that can compare to my family and I'm extremely thankful that I have one as close as they are.