If the good Lord is willing, and all works out as planned, two months from today we should be in the middle of a family adventure that we have never all experienced before. I'm calling it "The Great Adkins Clan Thanksgiving Week Anniversary Cruise".
2016 has been a special year in our family for Wedding Anniversaries.
Linda and I observed our 45th Anniversary on June 19th. Just a month before that, our older son, Jay and his wife, Michelle celebrated their 20th Anniversary on May 18th. This coming November 16th, younger son, Benji, and his wife, Leigh Anne will also observe their 20th. It is a milestone year for sure.
Our family, although not as large and scattered as some, rarely all get to be together at the same time. There are only 11 of us in total, but geography, occupational duties, and school activities make it nearly impossible for all of our "planets to align". In fact, the last time ALL of us were in the same place at the same time, was Thanksgiving of 2011, when Nathan was only 3 months old. There have been several times that most of us have been together, but in each of those cases one or the other of the spouses, or one of the kids were not present. That's frustrating for an old guy (and his wife) whose lives have been centered around God (first) and then family.
Jay is Pastor of First Baptist Church of Westwego in suburban New Orleans, and Michelle teaches in Marrero Academy. Quint and Canon attend Patrick Taylor Academy (a science and technology magnet school), also located in Jefferson Parish. Quint, who is a Junior this year, attends Pat Taylor in the mornings and then drives to the New Orleans Center for Cultural Arts (NOCCA) for afternoon classes in advanced musical studies. The boys in New Orleans stay busy with their various band and other music activities, as well as being heavily involved in their church youth group.
Nearly a thousand miles away, Benji and Nathan travel to Fallsburg, KY each day where Benji teaches Middle School English in the Lawernce County, Kentucky school system, and Nathan is doing his preschool work. The two older boys, Will and Asher, attend High School and Middle School in Ashland, KY. Both of the Kentucky boys also stay very involved in school sports and in activities at their church. Leigh Anne is a Mary Kay Sales Director.
Of course I serve Westmoreland Baptist Church as Senior Pastor and have some other outside ministry related activities. Linda just retired this year, so her schedule is a little more pliable, but she does still serve as legal guardian of her 95 year old father who is in a local assisted living community. Even though he no longer lives in our home, Linda makes regular visits to see him, and is still responsible for all of his affairs. So it's easy to see that there are often scheduling difficulties for individual family activities, much less getting the whole clan together.
A few months ago a couple of our New Orleans friends, Vinnie and Sue Verdin, made us aware of an excellent deal on aWestern Caribbean cruise aboard the Carnival Dream, scheduled for the week of Thanksgiving. Linda and I had been on two cruises in the past, and as I told someone after the first one, "She loved it, and I didn't hate it." Actually, both of us enjoyed it enough to plan another, longer one, and we always felt like we would enjoy a third cruise, if the opportunity ever arose.
I began thinking, "Wouldn't it be great if the whole family could go along on this cruise? We could have the joy of having the whole clan together, and celebrate our triple special anniversaries together." Michelle was the only member of the family, besides Linda and I, who had ever been on a cruise, and she was all for it. It seemed strange to me that we would possibly be having Thanksgiving Dinner on the high seas and strolling the streets of Cozumel instead of watching football in the family room in our house on 49th Street, but the thought was intriguing.
Well, to make a long story shorter, the planets did align. By being on the week of Thanksgiving, The boys were out of school, Michelle was out as well, and Benji would only have to use a couple of personal days. Leigh Anne, Jay and I were able to work our schedules to make it possible, and Linda was chomping at the bit to go! So, passage was booked, and it was a done deal.
I am truly looking forward to the trip. Linda and I will probably head down to NOLA a couple of days earlier that Benji and his crew who will join us all there on Saturday, November 19th. Our ship departs the Port of New Orleans on Sunday afternoon, November 20th and after stops in Cozumel, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, we'll arrive back in the Big Easy a week later, on Sunday, November 27th.
I'm thankful for Sue and Vinnie (who will also be on the ship) for making us aware of the opportunity, and for the Lord allowing us to work out the schedules and the finances to do this thing. So, come November, this old Papaw is looking forward to sailing off with my bride, to all of us being together, celebrating our three Anniversaries, enjoying the tropical climate and beautiful scenery, and observing Thanksgiving aboard a beautiful cruise ship. As they say down there in New Orleans, "Laissez les bon temps rouler!"