You can find a full list of my A to Z challenge posts here. :)
About 24 years ago, I was incredibly blessed to be absorbed into Bill's family. Unlike my family (which I'll talk about on the S entry), the Jones clan encompasses a couple hundred individuals. Yep. In the 'immediate' family.
Seeing as how my whole family lived in a span of a handful of houses on the same block, Bill's family is MASSIVE. And almost all have been to our house. At the same time. With one bathroom. ;)
I was welcomed without question or reservation - at least none that I'd ever heard of - and some members of Bill's family, especially his Aunt Edna (yep, he has one too. Doesn't everyone??) are among my select few 'favorite people on the planet'. I know, with utter certainty, that I can pick up the phone and, with one little phone call, have a houseful of guys to help move something heavy, or build a new roof, or whatever. Need to borrow a car? Easy peasy. Need an emergency babysitter? Gotcha covered. Have any crisis at all, and a horde of Joneses - aunts, uncles, cousins twice removed - will descend like magical, friendly locusts and get it fixed, hauled, cleaned up, or corralled. Shortly after we got married, one of Bill's cousins had to move, and we - along with a lot of others - appeared at the house and got everything out of there and loaded in the truck, EVERYTHING, in less than an hour.
BAM! It's like magic. Joneses do not screw around.
Besides being generous with their time, the Jones family tends to be rowdy. And LOUD, everyone talking over everyone else. There's generally beer somewhere, and quite a few have issues with substance abuse (not that my family is clean in that regard, but the reasons for the abuse tend to be different). It's never quiet at a Jones family gathering and they get together every 4th of July. When we were first married, the annual party/family reunion was held at Bill's parents' house, but after his mom died it moved to ours. One year, when I did the head count, we had 177 people over, including children, and, yes, we had one bathroom. It was a madhouse, but since we had a huge yard, we managed. And it didn't include Uncle Charles' branch, or Aunt Marlene's branch, Duane and Jo's family (who mostly lived out of state), anyone from Sharon's side, or the folks who had to work.
Still, more than 175 people. In the "immediate family".
After several years, we decided that our poor septic system couldn't handle the stress anymore, so the party moved on, to Charles' house, then a park, then back to Bill's dad's, then another park. I'm not sure where it'll be this year, but it promises to have a lot of food, a lot of volleyball, and a whole LOT of kids running around. Every ten years or so they have the BIG family gathering and there were more than 300 people at the last one.
You don't get such a huge family without having a lot of children. We were the oddballs in the group because we only had our one daughter - and one of Bill's brothers has no children at all - but four to seven kids per family seems to be the norm. Cousin Johnny (who'd had a whole string of girls) once joked he was making his own softball team.
I know with a deep and abiding certainty, without a hint of reservation, that if our house were to burn down, or Bill's job evaporate, or a hundred other possible catastrophes were to fall upon us, the Jones family would be there, immediately, to help clean up or offer a place to stay, or money or whatever.
Bam! The helpful horde would descend.
Despite being solidly working class to downright poor, they're just incredibly generous and giving people. I have to admit it took me awhile to get used to the loud, rowdy, rambunctiousness of the family, but I love them all and I'm positive they know that if they need anything - anything - we, too, would be there to help.
Love you guys!!