Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Family Gatherings

Good evening, friends;
Ok, OK...just let me have my fantasies that someone actually reads this. Not that I mind if no one does; I probably get way to personal on here anyway. I know that sometimes I go beyond "TMI", but that's just me. I write to heal myself...and to maybe make someone else smile or feel better in knowing that they aren't alone.

After reading some friends posts tonight, I got to thinking about family gatherings. I hope you know what I'm talking about. I wish that each one of you could be blessed with at least some of the happy memories that come with getting together with family on a regular basis and pigging out.

When I was a kid, my family met at my Grandparent's house at least once a month. Saw horses in the living room with an 8-foot sheet of plywood laid over the top. White linen tablecloths and Gramma's good dishes. Us kids would get under the table and play until time to eat...popping up every once in awhile to steal olives.

Culinary highlights included yeast rolls from Great Grandmother, Potato salad from Aunt, ham or turkey, cranberry sauce (jellied), my Mom's award-winning pies and Gramma's Peanut Blossom cookies (the kind with the Hershey's kiss in the middle). Mashed potatoes, Gravy, stuffing, green salad. Table looks like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Oh, and about 4 cans of olives. Where are all those olives disappearing to, anyway??

As time went on, those times became fewer and farther between. But we still keep Thanksgiving and Christmas. Always. No matter what!
As the kids all grew up and married or moved away, the count got smaller. Then Great Grandmother passed on...then Grampa...then divorces...then Gramma about 18 months ago.

So I do the adult Christmas name draw list for my side of the family. My list gets shorter each year. Five girls in our family...and the husbands keep disappearing. So it's just our parents, three aunts, one uncle, us girls and our kids. And every once in awhile someone brings a friend.

The kids are the fun part...I think we've pretty much stopped adding kids for now and it'll be a few years until "grand kids" start coming. Of course, you never know... but if an "accident" happens, Just PLEASE GOD DON'T LET IT BE ME!!

And what burdens my heart the most about planning for the holidays, thinking back on family get-togethers, noticing the differences in the dynamics...makes me realize who will be leaving next. I'm not ready for my parents to pass on. I need them too much! Can't even contemplate how much that is going to hurt...

But I'm looking forward to the Holidays. BIG holiday fanatic, I am! If I had my way, I'd decorate for Christmas right after Halloween and leave it up till February. Giving to others is SUCH an incredible high! I can't wait to see the looks on my kids' faces, watch MG smile, see the tears in my aunt's eyes.

And eat together and sing together and hug and nap and take walks and bask in the love.

And remember those who are missing...and love them, too.

And be thankful that we've survived another year. There have been a few times when I wondered if I would.

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