20th Annual Forever Friends Gathering

January 16th was our chance to get together with some of our dear friends, all of which we’ve known for 30 years or more. I’m not sure if it’s really our 20th year of doing this, but it’s been a long time.  It started when we lived in Southern California for 18 years and nearly every winter we’d come back to Phoenix between Christmas and New Year’s to visit family and friends.  We always tried to reserve one day to gather with a few of our dear friends that we’ve known since the late 70’s when we lived here in AZ the first time.  Most of these friends were married around the same time as us and had children at around the same time.  Our kids have known each other since birth and hopefully our grandkids will be the same.
This year the Mozingos graciously hosted the gathering.  It’s really one of our favorite places to go, because it’s like going out of town, even though they’re still in the metro Phoenix area.  You’ll see why from the photos.

This first pic is the inside of their front door.  They built this adobe home themselves and it has so many gorgeous touches that make it unique.  I just love the character of it.  The sidelight is made from the bottom of wine bottles.  I love the way the light shines thru it.

Most of us arrived by mid-afternoon so we could watch the Cardinals playoff game against New Orleans.  We had high hopes, but if you know anything about football, you’ll know that they lost miserably, so the attention soon turned to the delicious food, wonderful fellowship and beautiful weather outside.

We each brought something to contribute to the meal.  Appetizers, drinks, desserts, soups, etc.  I won’t go into a lot of detail because I forgot to take pictures of the food before it was picked over, but as always, we had so much more than we could eat and EVERYTHING was amazing!  If you don’t want to come to these gatherings for any other reason, you will come for the food.  We are all very good at putting on a good spread.

During half time, many of us wandered outside to get our minds off the game and to see the latest developments in the Mozingo compound.  Some of us were fortunate to get a tour of Rand and Michelle’s winter garden.  Brimming with gorgeous greens, turnips, radishes, cauliflower, broccoli and more.  It was fun to see and sample so many delicious healthy treats.  Thanks Rand!  You’re a gardening inspiration.

After the tour we all just hung out in the back yard for a while.  I decided this year that I wanted to try to take a group photo at these annual gatherings so that we can look back at the growth and changes that have happened.  Sadly we haven’t done it all along, but we still have lots of photos of these times together each year.  And now that I have a tripod and a remote control for my camera, it makes it that much easier.

The Thompson clan was out in force, but the rest of the families were a bit light on kids.  I think our kids would have loved to be there, if they weren’t living in other states. We need to figure out a way to do this when they’re in town sometimes.  And Emolyn was the only grandchild here, so needless to say she was quite the center of attention.  I look forward to the day when there are scads of little ones running around, experiencing what true friendship looks like and the love, grace and joy that fills these times together.
Can you tell that her Uncle Tyler adores her?
She’s at that perfect age when she’ll do all kinds of “tricks” with the prompting of
adults around her. We saw many animal impersonations, ad-lib songs, dancing and so much more.
What a fun age she is!
And here’s Aunt Miranda singing with Em.
Enjoy the rest of these photos.  They are self-explanatory.  I hope you get a picture of this wonderful place, group of people and time together.  It’s one of our favorite gatherings of the year.  We wouldn’t miss it for the world.

We decided that next year we want to bring marshmallows, chocolate and Ginger Snaps and make a new kind of s’mores.  Doesn’t that sound delicious?  But what should we call them?

Forever Friends Gathering

We just found out that our gathering of “forever friends” is going to be held this year at the Mozingo’s and we’re really excited!

The Mozingo’s house is way out west of Phoenix in Waddell. They built the adobe home themselves, brick by brick and its loaded with character. This is their front door and one of the doorknobs in their house. Aren’t they awesome! The two outdoor shots give you an idea of what their backyard and the firepit looks like. We love going there because it feels like we’re in another world far beyond the city.

This annual gathering started around 20 years ago after Terry, the kids and I moved to California. We started coming back to Phoenix to visit family and friends during the week between Christmas and New Year’s and started a tradition of setting aside one night to gather with some of the families that we were closest with when we lived here. When we started this tradition, all of our kids were very young and now almost all of them are college age, married or out of the house. I don’t think we’ve missed a year since we started, a couple of decades ago and now that we’ve moved back to Phoenix, the tradition continues. The core group has always remained the same: Haugens, Hanns, Thrushes and Thompsons. The Rolfes have joined us off and on and the Mozingos have joined the clan regularly in the past several years.

Every year, usually sometime around New Year’s weekend all of the families gather at one of our homes and have great food, fellowship, fun and often a fire either inside or out. The parents hang out and catch up on the latest family news and the “kids” hang out and do what kids do. Often times there will be story telling, playing of instruments, singing, etc. usually by the kids as they’ve grown older and joined the parents in their respective musical talents.

We cherish this get-together every year and can’t wait for another one. Over the last few years boyfriends, girlfriends, fiances and now spouses have joined the group, so our numbers have grown to nearly 30 and will continue to grow as more mates come along and when the grandkids start showing up. How cool! In the past few years Nicole, Jed, Andrew and Erin have joined the group. We’re so blessed to have such an amazing group of friends that have stayed close even though we lived in two different states for 18 years. What a testimony to God’s love and grace in our lives. We’ve all stuck together through thick and thin, laughter and tears, pain and sorrow and we’re so thankful for each one of them in our lives. Our kids have often shared about their hope of keeping the same kind of friendships as they move into adulthood. What a precious treasure we have been given!!!