He Lives In You

What do you get when you combine:

2 parents
13 children (and 13 spouses)
78 grandchildren (and 42 spouses so far) ←Troy’s generation
103 great-grandchildren (and 6 on the way) ←Blake and Nash’s generation
257 immediate members of the Tanner family

Every two years, we get together for a big family reunion.  Probably only three quarters of the family were actually in attendance this year because we are scattered far and wide. And we still are a humongous group.

I LOVE Tanner gatherings. There are so many good people doing great things with their lives that there is never enough time to soak in all of the conversations we want to have.

This reunion was so well planned and executed. Many hands worked together to provide three meals a day for countless heads. There were presentations from recently returned mission presidents, published authors, and experts on our family history. We square danced. Canoed. Played volleyball. Climbed through a ropes course. But mostly, we talked. And talked. And talked.

During one of the presentations that would not have held the attention of small children, one family was in charge of outdoor children’s activities. There must have been at least 60 children from the ages of 2-10, so our boys were in heaven with all of their second cousins.

They started by constructing rockets.

There was a whole apparatus set up to launch them into the air, which eventually led to an activity for the adult cousins to see which rocket could travel the farthest.

Who knew painting a rock could provide endless entertainment?

There were also stations set up for the kids to make crowns and fruit loop necklaces. Finally, they each received a bag of cream, salt and ice to shake and turn into homemade ice cream.

It took about twenty minutes to transform into ice cream, which meant that I did most of the shaking, but the end result was delicious.

Being up in the mountains meant that there were all sorts of opportunities to become one with nature. But what did our boys gravitate towards? The broken down wooden trailer near the pavilion. Whenever I lost Nash, I knew just where to look to find him.

“He Lives In You,” from the Broadway version of The Lion King, was chosen as the theme this year. The song is a reminder to Simba that when his father died, he never really left him.

In reference to the theme, we remembered and celebrated the amazing person that Troy’s grandpa, William Tanner, was and is. He passed away ten years ago, about a week after I met Troy. His legacy is remarkable. I feel like I know him personally after all the stories I’ve heard over the years. He wasn’t afraid to talk to anyone and he left behind a legacy of missionary work and happiness. And a huge posterity. This year’s theme was a reminder that he really does live in all of us, in one way or another.

While waiting for lunch one day, Troy’s talented cousin sang a powerful rendition of “He Lives In You” that got us all fired up.


There was a table set up where we could write letters to our 10 full-time missionaries/mission presidents that are currently serving around the world.

We spent most of our time visiting inside the large pavilion that could fit everyone. One day, our family was in charge of picking up 36 pizzas to feed the troops.

Tricia’s husband had to leave early to get back to school, but the rest of us sported our reunion shirts with pride.

Our boys were smitten, as usual, with Uncle Todd.

Let’s just take a minute and note the awesomeness of the t-shirt hanging off Blake’s shoulder (why don’t t-shirt companies make children’s sizes for mass production?) and the burn marks all over Nash’s arm. Gotta love it when your kids look like ragamuffins.

As usual after Tanner gatherings, we left feeling impressed, motivated, supported, and loved. We sure are blessed in the family department. I don’t think it’s really that common to have such a huge family where everyone adores and is so respectful of one another.


  • Amber July 21, 2012 at 12:47 am

    You guys have done a lot of traveling this summer!! I'm jealous 🙂

  • Stephanie July 21, 2012 at 2:08 am

    It would be so incredible to be part of such an amazing family. You guys are very blessed!

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