This year was a most memorable Thanksgiving. We spent five days with my two sisters and their families. We rented a big house where we could all stay together near the parks in Orlando. Between the 3 of us, we have 13 children ranging in ages from 6 to 28. We also had my son's fiancee and her 3-yo precious daughter. We rented a 7-bedroom house with a swimming pool, a pool table and a theater. Yes, a theater! The older kids ended up sleeping in the comfortable theater seats since they'd start to watch a movie late in the evening and just fall asleep. A teenager's dream come true. The house was absolutely beautiful, but that's not what made our vacation so memorable. The time we spent together is priceless.
The kids have a lot in common even though they have a different upbringing and have lived in very different states or parts of the country. My youngest sister and her family have lived in Central America for the last 4 years. Their kids have always attended private schools and have an affluent upbringing, but are genuine and humble. They're very close to their parents. My other sister just moved back to Florida after living in Montana for 8 years. Her older kids attended both private and public schools. They're 19 and 21 and have been on their own for a couple of years. Their youngest was homeschooled last year for 3rd grade, and is back in public school now. And we have always lived in Florida and homeschooled all our children except our oldest, who attended public school.
At one point the older kids had a discussion about education. My son's fiancee mentioned that she wants to homeschool. She was also homeschooled her high school years. Although my son was not homeschooled, he has a desire to homeschool his children. My nieces and nephews made the same arguments we always hear about socialization. One niece is still in high school and the other two have recently graduated. My kids and I shared some homeschool statistics with them, but also agreed that homeschooling is not for everyone. More and more families are homeschooling, but there is still a lot of naivete about homeschoolers; particularly that homeschoolers are 'sheltered'. This came up in the conversation several times. I tried to explain that all homeschooling families are different and that while there may be some families that may be what they consider sheltered, the homeschool trends are changing and evolving. For example, we're homeschooling high school and we have access to every good thing a student in a brick and mortar school has. My kids can participate in a homeschool athletic organization or even a public school sports team. We have our own yearbooks and yearbook committees. We have a Homecoming Dance and Prom. We have art clubs, Speech and Debate Clubs, Drama Clubs and many other clubs. As a matter of fact, if a family has a unique interest and wants to start a club, like a Lego Club, there are plenty of families that will join and help to coordinate meetings. One of the things I love most about homeschooling is that we're not segragated. We all work as a team and play as a team.
As passionate as my family and I are about homeschooling, though, we understand that we're not all called to homeschool. Fortunately the conversation was light-hearted for the most part. My nieces and nephews are all respectful and loving. Also, my brother-in-law has a great sense of humor, so he would throw in a light-hearted joke here and there. As strong as our opinions may be about education, our love and respect for each other is stronger still. All in all a good time was had by all and we're already planning our next get-away. Spring Break!! Maybe my three brothers will join us with their families for this next reunion. Won't that be a full house!