This year for Christmas I visited my dad’s side of the family, as I usually do. I love it because it’s big and often chaotic. My grandparents had four children – three girls and one boy. They now have ten grandchildren. My Aunt Sue, Uncle Mike, and their two children aren’t usually at the family gatherings, but the rest of us are. My Aunt Jeanne, Uncle Steve, and their three boys stayed at their house, but my Dad, Cindy, my brothers, their dog Jock, my Aunt Cathy and Uncle Rob are here with their children, too. I’ve probably lost you by now, but here’s what it comes down to – there were eleven people and one dog staying together in one house. I love this family (even if sometimes we get on each other’s nerves), and Christmas without these packed gatherings would not be the same.

Just some highlights from the four days I was at my paternal grandparents.

  • My cousin Christopher actually wrote about how much he wanted Grandma’s gingerbread cookies in his Facebook status.
  • Everybody loved Jock and gave him lots of attention.
  • My grandma cooked for an army, and made sure she had something for everyone to eat. What a woman! (Although she didn’t do all the cooking – Cindy, Aunt Cathy, Aunt Jeanne, and Uncle Steve helped out a few of the days)
  • I was Grandma’s helper by wrapping gifts, peeling apples for applesauce, and cutting out aforementioned cookies.
  • I’m almost twenty-one (tomorrow!) and I still sat at the “kids’” table with my six-year-old brother.
  • My brother Alex got his fingers slammed in a door for the second Christmas gathering in a row. I guess it’s not a family gathering unless someone gets hurt.
  • My older male cousins and my uncles got into a snowball fight while we were trying to leave for lunch.
  • . My cousin Kaity and I always share a room, since we’re the only female grandchildren (besides Kelly, who we haven’t seen in a while). I called dibs on the couch, since for the past few years I’ve slept on the floor.
  • The only “private” place I could call Alex (boyfriend) from was the laundry room – and even then, my aunt had some things in there and interrupted me five minutes in.
  • I didn’t sleep well, but as it turns out, no one did and we were all up and in the kitchen by 7:30.
  • We took at least three cars to go places, and no one knew who was going to be in what car.
  • It was (as always) fun for people in restaurants or at church to figure out how the sixteen of us are all related.
  • My aunt Cathy beat out the rest of us to put the last figure in the advent calendar.
  • There was no room to sit at church, which prompted me to have a panic attack.
  • My aunt Cathy hit Uncle Rob in the face with a snowball. It was hilarious.
  • Grandma made delicious sloppy joes.
  • My brothers were fidgety during family pictures.
  • The tree was so small compared to the pile of presents that were crammed underneath it. See the below picture.
  • I was up at 5:50 on Christmas morning, and we didn’t even open presents until 7:00.
  • Everyone liked my gifts. David wore his hat all day and wouldn’t take it off, and then on Sunday, he sent me an e-mail praising my cookies.
  • I got some really nice items, but it was better to visit with my family.
  • Dad made the Bouche de Noel and let me lick the beaters from the frosting.

Sunday, Mom picked me up and we went to Ohio to visit with my maternal grandparents. My aunt Jo and uncle Dave were there too, and it was nice, quiet, and calm. We had a delicious dinner and dessert, but Mom and I had to leave early because it was snowing. We left at 6:00 and it took us three hours to get home. We were exhausted, but it was so nice to be home.

I hope all of you have had a nice holiday season, and I wish you all the best in the New Year.