December: Family Time, Redefined

In December, we hosted Nate's family for Christmas - an every-other-year tradition. Having time off from work while surrounded by visiting family meant much of our time was devoted to catching up with parents and siblings, so before they arrived, we made sure to get another slice of our "family" on the calendar - time with Jill & Jamie and their three kids. Although we've known them for less than two years, this family is part of our core in Cayman, and we love it when we get to join their family nights at home.

The kids were abuzz with extra excitement on this particular evening, because they had gotten official authorization to sleep in a tent. Nate, with his Mountain Man beard, seemed the most qualified candidate to coordinate assembly.

Thanks to this happy little guy, we all learned that his beloved flashlight worked perfectly
 not only in his bedroom but also his sister's bedroom. Useful info when you plan to sleep in a tent in the room next door. He made sure to demonstrate so we could all feel at ease with the lighting situation.

The baby of the family has the world's best game face. Unfazed by tent-induced excitement or motherly affection, she took on the role of supervisor.

Remember the days when you were the right size to fit into a Lightning McQueen tent with all your siblings and your snacks?

Happy little feet. I love it.


Finally, our blood relatives arrived...

photo by Amy Strzalko did Christmas Day.

We combined family from home with the Cayman family who happen to live a couple doors down.

Kelly and David were awesome enough to let Chris and Amanda use their extra bedroom to avoid the air mattress scenario at our house. On Christmas morning, both families joined forces for a slow-paced, traditional breakfast - eggs, bacon, crepes, and multiple pours of French press coffee. Perfection.

I've learned that no celebration in Cayman is complete without party hats. Everyone got involved. I made sure of it.

Christmas in Cayman is a warm-weather affair. I've gotten used to it over the years. Now that I'm no longer wishing for a white Christmas, I'm always thankful for a sunny one.

Spikeball on the beach on Christmas might be preferable to snow. It's a pretty darn good consolation prize, at any rate.

For Christmas dinner, we imported more of the Cayman family that live in the neighborhood, along with more tasty holiday dishes than I could fit on my plate.

The reality of living abroad is that we can't see all of our relatives on every holiday, like we used to do. I deeply miss family during the holiday season - parents and siblings, grandparents and cousins - all the things childhood memories are made of. But there are still plenty of reasons to be joyful. I'm continuously thankful for nearby friends who fill in for far away brothers and sisters. It all adds up to more people to love and celebrate with during the festive season!


One of the gifts we gave this year was official family photos with our talented friend Amy Strzalko. I enjoyed not having the pressure of taking awesome photos that could hang on people's walls for years, but I do have to say: Being a subject in photos is almost as hard as taking them! Fortunately, Amy has this uncanny ability to relax even the most awkward of smiles, so her photo shoot with us actually ended up as an outstanding success. 

photo by Amy Strzalko

photo by Amy Strzalko

photo by Amy Strzalko

You can see a selection of her lovely work with our family here.

The rest of the week we took advantage of our time away from the office, catching sunsets...

taken with the iPhone 5

...trying our skills at wakesurfing with Wakeboard Cayman...

...and playing several more rounds of spikeball.


December is a wonderful month in Cayman, and we're so thankful we got to share it with our family - both those from our childhood and those we've added only recently. These experiences are forming memories that will outlast any physical gifts that could be exchanged.

With family, we're building relationships that will last our lifetimes.

Family, redefined.


  1. Awesome Jenn! What a beautiful family you are and married into! Thanks for sharing your holiday pics. We got adopted on Christmas day when our neighbors found out we were family-less and plan-less! Thankful for adopted family!