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I didn’t have children by choice, being blessed with “little sisters”, nieces, nephews and godchildren in two countries.

I’ve always had a deal with them:  Wherever I’m working or living, join me.

This has made for some lasting memories, from haunting comic book stores in New York and Toronto, to all-girl, stay-up-all-night-giggling-and-gabbing sessions in Washington, D.C.

We’ve made family history by missing planes (Washington); missing basketball players (Chicago); missing more planes (Vancouver); and getting dressed up for dinner, theatre and apres-theatre on Broadway.  A highlight was ringing in the start of a new millenium in New York.  Some of these stories stay in the vault, for sure.

Thank you, each niece and nephew, for enriching my life.  You have made me proud to be an aunt.  Your joys are my joy.

And my home is always your home.

When I met Hadi almost 14 years ago, I was thrilled to add two more nieces to our expanding family.

Then a third — she was born after we met, and was too young to attend the wedding.

All these nieces and nephews give me hope with their plans and dreams for school, work, travel and, especially, their volunteering.  I’m always moved by their kindness.

me, being welcomed into the Dadashian family

Two nieces from the Dadashians, and one from the Morrows, agreed to be flower girls at our wedding.  No rules — they could wear whatever they wanted.  It was a delight to see that their dresses all matched.

It was even more of a delight to see our families mesh so quickly, across cultures and countries.  It was a relief to see the brash Morrows gather in the more shy Dadashians (everyone looks shy compared to the Morrows!), and the Americans quickly accept the Canadians.

Tip for couples planning weddings with families traveling from all over: Give disposable cameras to all the children and teens, and you’ll get some of the best photos for your wedding album.  It’s a sure way to watch the smallest one grow.

Nephews with youngest flower girl at reception

nieces, nephews at reception (see flower girl losing shyness)

me, reassuring flower girl (she's clinging to her sister, who was just married this year)

Flower girl, Paula-Lynn (her grandfather is to the right)

flower girl overcoming shyness