Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Five-year photo

Nate and me during picture time...thanks to my cousin
Lindsay for this great picture!
Although it seemed a bit overshadowed by my car problems, I did actually have a great time on the trip to Pennsylvania that was mainly to celebrate my Ridinger grandparents' 60th anniversary and to get our traditional five-year photo.  This year, we all met at the Tree Top Villas in Bushkill, Pennsylvania, which is right along the Delaware River in eastern PA.  Being less than 2 hours from New York City resulted in 3 trips there for me, 2 to sight-see and the other being that horrific adventure to and from JFK airport that I mentioned in my previous post.

This trip was set up about about 2 years ago when my grandma first started looking into where to have the family gather for their 60th anniversary and the photo.  The site was selected about a year ago after my sister had requested we go somewhere else besides the traditional Lake Lure, North Carolina location.  She looked over all the options and made a list of several that had amenities and attractions she liked and my grandma picked the one in Pennsylvania.  My grandparents' anniversary is actually in June, but the last 3 "big ones" (50th, 55th, and 60th) we've celebrated with these big family trips.  Outside of my siblings, pretty much all of the family lives in Ohio, my aunt and uncle in Virginia Beach being the exception.  And in Ohio, we're all in Kent or near Kent, so we see each other pretty regularly.  The five-year photo, which has been a family tradition since the 1960s, has had quite a history, especially the last few!

2001 photo at Old Key West in the Disney World complex.
My brother was on his mission at the time.
In 2001 we all went to Florida for grandma and grandpa's 50th.  I always had to include we weren't going down there because they were already down there, but all of us were taking a trip there together since most people seemed to assume since it was for my grandparents, they must already live in Florida!  That trip was actually in June, so was right after around their anniversary.  I drove down with them that year and was the only one with them on their actual anniversary.  I remember we had a nice lunch right on the beach in Flagler Beach, Florida that day before getting to Orlando where we stayed for the week.  That was the first time we had ever done the photo "on location" (i.e. not in Ohio) and the first time we ever all wore matching t-shirts (which my sister Becky designed) instead of more formal wear.  That year, all the shirts were yellow for the "golden" anniversary.  It was the 2nd extended-family trip we had taken, gathering in North Carolina 2 years earlier.  It was also the first time we did the photo as part of my grandparents' anniversary.  Before 2001, we did the photo irregardless to when their anniversary was.  Instead, we just did it whenever the family could get together, which was often in the summer, but not always.  The 1996 photo, for instance, was done in November.    

Unedited 2006 photo in Lake Lure, NC
The next trip, 5 years later in 2006, was in Lake Lure, North Carolina.  That's where my grandparents' regular time share is, so they are down there once every year.  My siblings and I had been there twice before, in 1994 and for the big get-together in 1999.  The difference for the photo in 2006 was that my grandma wanted us to wear color-coordinated t-shirts that separated us by family.  That way it was easier for my grandma to tell her friends who everyone was and who they belonged to.  Of course, the day we took the photo it was about 95 degrees and humid, plus we lacked a professional photographer to really position us to get the best shots (which was also true this year, oh well).  It was so hot, we all just wanted to get the picture and get out of there.  My brother had to photoshop quite a bit of sweat off several of the shirts in the picture!

Unedited 2011 photo with spaces left for those missing
This year's photo was similar to 2006 in that we were again in color-coordinated shirts.  The difference this year was who wore what colors.  My immediate family was the only one who didn't change (blue), and that's due to both my youngest sister Becky and me having blue as our favorite color.  The other difference was that Becky screen-printed  the word "FAMILY" on the back of each shirt, with the letters made up of each of our names.  We also had 2 people missing from the photo this year (a cousin and my sister-in-law), so they will be photoshopped into the picture later.  When my brother was missing from the 2001 photo (he was in Hungary on his LDS mission), my grandma simply got a picture of him wearing the yellow t-shirt after he got home (he got home later that summer), cut it out in an oval around his face, and then pasted it on the actual picture.  I guess you can call that an "old fashioned photoshop"!  Anyway, as this year's photo looks now, there are just missing spaces in the picture.  Of the 8 grandkids in the family, half them are from my immediate family.  Now that we've added 2 spouses and a child to that plus my dad is engaged, the blue people (I referred to us as the "Smurfs") kind of dominate the picture, even as we tried to spread out.

My siblings and me Brady Bunch-style!
There was some discussion as to whether this will be the last 5-year photo.  While I doubt we'll be doing this mass vacation again, I don't anticipate not doing the photo in 5 years unless both grandparents have passed on.  While it's certainly possible (both are in their 80s), my great-grandma lived to 95, so I'm expecting at least my grandma to live another 10 years or so (if not longer) and it wouldn't surprise me if my grandpa made it another 5.  If he does, he'll be 92 at the next picture!  Either way, I expect at least one more with the extended Ridinger family and then we'll probably break off into individual families as we will most likely have a lot more spouses and kids in the next photo anyway!  That seems to be the evolution of the photo as it originally started out with my great-grandparents getting a family photo of their kids and grandkids.  The first four-generation photo was the 1981 picture with my brother.  As the respective families of my grandmother and her brother grew, the photo changed in 1986 and just included my great-grandparents and the children and grandchildren of my grandma.  This year's photo with my nephew Nathan was the first four-generation photo since 1996, the last photo my great-grandma was in.

Back of this year's shirt
Anyway, I'm sure you're all fascinated by the history of the Ridinger family photo, but there you have it.  All in all a great trip, plus it was great having all of my siblings together again, an event which happens now only once a year if that.  My next posts will have more about my side trips to New York and where we stayed in PA.  Outside that disaster coming back from JFK (no, I didn't take pictures!) I had a great time visiting the Big Apple for the first time in 15 years!

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