Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas :: Past - Present - Future

=+==+==+= Christmas Past =+==+==+=

When I was younger, before the teenage years, my family always got together at Christmas time with my mother's sisters and brother and their families – usually at my grandfather's house.

As we got older it became more difficult for all of us to get together at Christmas - there were really too many of us to fit in anyone's home. (My mom had three sisters and one brother and altogether they had 19 children.) Then the years went by all too quickly and we all went our separate ways, some got married and had families of their own, others just went away! But as many of us that could, still got together at Christmas. Sometimes it was just Mom and her siblings, but there was almost always some kind of Christmas gathering.

In 1980, after being diagnosed with cancer and having her leg amputated, my Grandmother decided that it was time for the entire family to get together again for Christmas! My mother and I were living in rural Noble County and the township had a community building that we rented and we made all of the arrangements. By this time there were about 75 family members in four generations.

The biggest family Christmas dinner was held in December of 1983 – 28 years ago! It would be the last time this many of the family was together. I think there were only two cousins who were not able to attend. The picture below was taken at that dinner and includes almost everyone who was there. I was taking the picture. (Better double-click on the picture to see all those smiling faces!)

My grandmother is in the wheelchair (she passed away the following May), her sister Jane is sitting beside her, and my nephew Jason is sitting on grandma's lap. Jason was five years old then; he is now 33 years old and has an eight year old daughter of his own. All of those little kids have grown up and many now have families. It is more than a little sad to think about those who are no longer with us – Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Jane, Uncle Bob, Uncle Walt, Aunt Phyllis, cousin Mike, my sister, and my mother. But it is such a pleasure to think of them and remember the good times we all had together.

=+==+==+= Christmas Present =+==+==+=

Christmas this year was spent in northeast Louisiana with extended family members. Twelve of us gathered together on Christmas Eve to celebrate. After a very good dinner of spicy Jambalaya we moved into the living room to continue one of their traditional events – caroling by telephone! As each family member who could not be present was called we all joined in with a hearty rendition of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” I lost track of how many people were called... East Coast, West Coast, and places in-between as well as one couple who was on their honeymoon on a Caribbean Island (they had gotten married earlier this year) and another couple who was vacationing in Thailand! It was a lot of fun.

=+==+==+= Christmas Future =+==+==+=

Ah, the future. Wouldn't it be great to get all of my first cousins and their families together again? Some of us do maintain contact on Facebook so we have stayed in touch that way. But it isn't the same as being together, in person. Many of that next generation – the cousins' children and grandchildren - have never met some of their cousins. I'm sure that some have no idea how many relatively-close relatives they really have!

Of course, it would be a logistical (and financial) nightmare but I think it would be great fun to meet up, oh, say in Hawaii or perhaps on a cruise ship – someplace warm! Just spend a week together doing various activities and have time to leisurely get caught up on all the family news.

Written for the 113th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy, "A Charles Dickens Christmas."


Jasia said...

Wow, what an awesome Christmas photo, Becky! You win the award for the most people in a Christmas picture, for sure! Thanks for sharing your memories in the COG. It's nice to have you back again!

Cynthia Shenette said...

I LOVE your photo! I'm sure it is a little sad to think of all the people who have passed on, but I can't help but think how lucky you all are to share such a wonderful Christmas memory!