For many years, my Thanksgiving column told of the members of my small family, and was the only totally personal column of the year.

I was on vacation this Thanksgiving, so I didn't write such a column, figuring no one would miss it. But several readers said they did miss it. So at the risk of seeming self-indulgent, here's a brief account of the family:

Lady K

Katherine, aka Lady Katherine, is as devoted to the cause of helping the mentally ill as she ever was, but has been taking some time off this year to recharge. I have no doubt she'll continue to be involved in this important mission.

The kids

Daughter Tammy is a medical coder, working from her newish home in Long Beach, Mississippi, where she lives with husband Boyce, a retired Zachary fire chief who works in security at a Gulfport casino.

Son Thomas, aka Pokey, is a retired Zachary deputy fire chief now working as a safety director for a Baton Rouge hospital. He lives Slaughter with his hairdresser wife Nicole.

The grandkids

Tammy's daughter Katie, my oldest grandchild, works in insurance in Lafayette, where husband Glen is in the oilfield supply business.

Her sister Mandy lives in Diamondhead, Mississippi, with husband Corey. Both are nurses at a Slidell hospital.

Ron, the oldest son of Thomas, is a firefighter in Zachary, living in St. Francisville with wife Kelsey, a cardio-vascular nurse in Zachary.

His brother Clint is also a Zachary firefighter, living in Slaughter with his new wife Katie, who's in the restaurant business in St. Francisville.

Their sister, Tayler, is a radiology technician in Zachary, living in Slaughter with husband Adam, a Baton Rouge firefighter.

Then there's my sixth grandchild, Landon, the son of Tammy and Boyce who lost his fight with spina bifida at 15, when he was a sophomore at Zachary High. The holidays always remind us of what a joy he was to be around and how much we all miss him.

The great-grandkids

Katie and Glen supplied me with two of my 10 great-grandchildren — Ethan, the oldest, and his sister Emma, both in school in Lafayette.

Mandy and Corey chipped in with three more — the girls Leah and Macy and their brother Noah. They all attend school in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

From Thomas and Nicole's side of the family, Ron and Kelsey are parents of two little girls — Natalie and her baby sister Heidi, the newest addition to the family.

Tayler and Adam are parents of two of my great-grandsons, Austin and his little brother Dean.

And Clint and his new bride Katie are now parenting Clint's son Aidyn.

Louis, Jane and family

My baby brother Louis has retired from his Oakdale tractor dealership, and he and wife Jane, a retired guidance counselor, are busy renovating her old family home for their new residence.

Their son Judd is a physician in Reno, Nevada, where he and wife Stacy are raising twin boys Jakob and Justin.

His brother Jason and wife Marian, both attorneys, live in Metairie with their boys Jackson and Colin.

And their youngest brother Josh recently moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he's in the oil business. He and wife Lauren also have two boys, Grant and Drake. Josh's daughter Vanessa lives in Houston with her mom, Melissa.

Katherine's family

Lady K's sister Valeri lives in the Philadelphia suburbs, where she's a tourism consultant.

Her oldest son, Wil, is vice president of a national cable television firm, living in Frisco, Texas, with wife Jen and daughters Arabella and Aliana.

Wil's younger brother Wes is the real estate analyst with a Chicago firm. He and wife Michelle, who just got her master's and is a healthcare consultant, are parents of daughter Nola.

Looking back on this account, I'm impressed with how many family members are engaged in helping others — in healthcare, firefighting, safety and security, etc.

Despite being kin to me, they've turned out to be solid citizens, valuable members of their communities.

I can ask for no better gift — family ties beat Christmas ties…                

Write Smiley at Smiley@theadvocate.com. He can also be reached by mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821. Follow Smiley Anders on Twitter, @SmileyAndersAdv.