A Very Special Christmas Gathering


The brisk sunny afternoon was the perfect welcome for the annual Christmas party that was about to begin. Relatives near and far converged upon this particular home which enjoyed the perfect backdrop of the San Francisco Bay Area. The Oakland hills greeted this extended family to a party expected to be filled with laughter, stories, and love that transcends four generations!

This much-anticipated family party was about to begin!

We were the first to arrive at the house and placed our coats on the antler-style rack near the front door. Reconnecting with my cousins, aunts and uncles was the order of the day. As the doorbell continuously rang, each coat found the next available hook on the rack. Before long, the transformed topiary stand of puffy jackets, purses and scarves made it impossible to find one’s coat without a lot of effort.

Although the Bay Area panorama was not to be ignored, the view inside was much better. The four generations spanned from a five-year old to one who was ninety-four years young.

The savory main dishes and desserts were festive in their presentations. Soup du jour simmered on the stove top and conversations occurred in nearly every corner of the house.

The most exciting part of the celebration began later in the afternoon. My auntie, 90-years young, moderated the next part of the fun by having the head of each family introduce their lineage and talk a little bit about each person’s occupation. That’s when the laughter began!

There were a total of six main family lines represented and a lot of jokes tossed back and forth. I loved the old stories which helped everyone learn more about the full lineage of this expanded family. The aunts and uncles I grew up with have lived a very long and healthy life. Even our 94-year old uncle continues to play tennis four times a week!

It was wonderful to have participated in such a large family gathering where laughter ruled the day!

As I watched the little ones wander throughout the groups of adults, flashbacks filled my mind as it seemed that not too long ago, I was that little one meandering throughout the crowd of relatives. The strange thing about these flashbacks was that the many aunts and uncles I was dodging back then are still with us fifty years later!!!

It was surreal!!

Arts & crafts were offered to the nephews and nieces while the adults continued their final conversations before people began leaving the party. It was amazing that the treetop of coats never toppled over. At one point, I was jokingly advising a few people to make sure they were leaving with the same jacket they came with. Some had a difficult time trying to sort through the fragile tree of coats.

As we got into our car and drove away, my heart was full of holiday cheer but more importantly, I appreciated the miracle that many of my aunts and uncles made it through another year of Christmas with this large extended family. We did not need gift exchanges  to complete our gathering – simply seeing most family members in one location was a gift that will never be forgotten.

My hope is that your family gathering will be filled with a lot of laughter, love, and fun this holiday season.

Merry Christmas!

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