Family. It’s so important to me.
My family is my center. We’ve just come out of the holidays and like many I have spent many hours with family. It’s been a whirlwind between family drama, sickness, laughter and mainly good times. Some will complain about the multitude of family gatherings at the season’s close, but to be honest it’s my favorite part of the holidays.
I have never been a fan of the commercial Christmas…trees, lights, presents, shopping madness, but I have always been a fan of family. This is a time of year to celebrate just that, your year and my family has done so much in shaping me.
As kids there were seven of us on my mom’s side. On my dad’s side I really only had one cousin and though we’ve spent a lot of time together, he lives far away and it is very hard to stay in touch. My mom’s side seems to center around my Memi’s and Papaw’s house. When we were little all seven of us would be shoved into their tiny home, a big group of teens, preteens and little kids. There were only two girls and that means five boys – us girls learned how to keep up with the boys or it meant we had to play alone.
There were kickball games in the backyard that got balls stuck in trees; games of “Cops and Robbers” that ended in double-cross as the little kids each were bribed to assist each side; begging for ice cream almost on the hour and getting it nearly every time; picnics at our uncle’s house with chicken wings and mac n’ cheese and pool party in the above ground pool; bonfires out in the woods where we melted forks; hours of video games and movies – TV shows like Digimon, Pokemon, Sonic the Hedgehog, Power Rangers – all fueled an active childhood. I remember times with my cousins so clearly and to look at us all grown up is amazing.
The two oldest are both married and have two kids each, the next generation of cousins and they are 100% adorable. The oldest boys are not brothers, but they should’ve been twins. Alike in so many ways and this can cause them to butt heads or pump fists. I remember times were “Aunt P” would have to lock them in the basement at Memi’s, forcing them to hold hands until they were friends again (or until they could do it without laughing). Both have been much like older brothers to me in their own ways…giving advice, threatening to punch out boys for me, and encouraging me in ways I couldn’t imagine. They’ve acted as leaders us rag-tag kids even when we’ve wished they would stand down.
The next two in birth order are the younger brothers of the first two. They’re an inseparable pair that couldn’t be more opposites, yet they have minds that blow the rest of us away. They can communicate with just a look and each look contains a thousand words that usual sends the other in a laughing fit. Even as opposites they still have so much they agree on and that makes they’re power to communicate strong. They have a deep understanding of the other that time nor distance cannot change.
I’m next in line with the only other girl. We’re a year apart as just as opposite but the same as the last two. We’re two peas in a pod when we’re together and our differences bring us together as much as our likenesses. We spend hours in front of movies from the Studio Ghibli and we quote them loudly. You can find us sitting side by side and still texting each other because we don’t want the others to hear our secrets. Both of us would choose our cats over people and both of us would spend New Year’s on a couch with said cat and a “Harry Potter” Marathon on TV. Reading is a common pass time but laziness gets the both of us. The difference is our Yin and Yang, our dark and light, my optimism to her seeming negativity. We create a balance to each other and by golly did we share an emo/punk phase! (She might hit me for sharing that.)
Certainly not least is my brother who is the youngest on both sides, has learned from us all, is my Memi’s “buddy-bear” and has learned to be a bit of a crowd hopper. Now that age restrictions no longer separate him from the oldest of the group the seven of us in one room can cause mayhem or wonders…or both! Take our last get together:
Last time all seven of us were together was because of our Papaw’s big 80th birthday. My Memi wanted to throw him a surprise party and bring every drop of extended blood under one roof to celebrate. Our cousin got the idea to recreate some old family photo favorites now that we were all grown up as a birthday present. We scoured for pictures then hunted for matching clothes and they rounded up my fancy camera to snap some photos. We decided to start by recreating a photo of all seven of us at the zoo – our family headquarters is feels like. We wanted to capture some new photos to create an album of our picture taking journey so we added photos of the new cousins – my oldest cousins’ wives and kids – posing in the same places where we once stood as young ones. Throughout the zoo I made it my job to capture the essence of each person and BOY was it fun. The exact thing that happens every time you get all of us together: we have fun.
My dad’s side is just as loud and crazy, but it’s an older crowd where you go to hear stories. Sometimes you hear the same story every year, but when you get them around a table and maybe toss in a few beers you hear stories of the wild and crazy adventures they had as kids. They certainly were not the most well-behaved children and they definitely were not Saints, but they lived life and lived it full. They have stories of their wild friends and it seemed like every one of them had a place under my family’s roof. Heck, every year I find out that one of my many “aunts” or “uncles” is actually a friend or an ex that just never really left the family. Christmas is always an occasion and though this side has just as much family drama and family members that are not spoken of (or spoken to) it’s an event I wouldn’t miss.
On my dad’s side I was the only girl and for my dad’s sisters and step-sisters I was a treat. I was smothered with pink and goodies that even if I didn’t like the color I loved the gift! Nowadays my aunts are major crafters and antique shoppers and it shines through in their Christmas especially. I remember one year I was given homemade vodka the year before I could even drink. Come to think of it I think that vodka is still lying around here somewhere…
As for my grandparents, on both sides, they mean the world to me. On each side it seems as though everything really does revolve around my grandparents. A lot of times you hear of grandparents coming to your house, pinching your cheeks, or flying into town to see everyone, or so on and so forth…but in my family we’re quick to meet grandma and grandpa right where they are. On mom’s side everyone stays at Memi and Papaw’s and we spend countless hours in the presence. On my dad’s side the party may not be at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house, but that’s just because of space reasons! We’re always right in their radius though, with out of town family flying in when they can and people driving thirty minutes to an hour at times to come together!
My family is important to me and you’ll be hearing a lot more about them. I mostly wanted to write this one to say, “Man, I love you guys!”