Every year when I was growing up, we celebrated Christmas with my Dad's side of the family on Christmas Eve. "Christmas Eve" gradually became "some time around Christmas", and it's been harder and harder to get together as we have gotten married, had kids, moved in different directions. We even missed one year, eventually getting a few of us together in late January.
This year, my cousin in Kansas City hosted the family gathering. They're the only ones who live there, but they live in a big, beautiful old house with lots of bedrooms and extra space, so almost everyone just spent the night with them. We had the best time!
Usually, the gatherings last about 1 1/2 hours (at best) before everyone has to go their separate ways. Since we were all staying at the same house, though, we were able to just relax and visit. We talked and laughed and talked. I had the opportunity to beat my cousin (who fancies himself quite the card shark!) in gin, too, which was fun. Since everyone had a glass (or three) of wine or beer, the conversations ranged wildly. We held the first "drunk book club"...since we ended up talking about books among other things.
My kids had a wonderful time, too. Jacob loved running up the back staircase and down the front staircase. I think he ran laps for an hour or so! They all played hide and seek (even the teenagers), ate cookies, played video games, ate cookies, watched movies, ate cookies, went to the show together, and snuck down for more cookies. I think Nathan slept for a total of 15 minutes that night because he was up talking.
One funny thing about the trip. It was about 65 degrees here at home when we left. Drove 4 1/2 hours west, and it was in the low 30's when we got there! It even snowed that night, so Jacob sort of got the white Christmas he'd been praying for. Of course, all we had were light sweatshirts, so he only got it through the window!
Naturally, I forgot my camera, but hopefully some of my cousins will send me pictures to add to the post. This overnight trip was probably the best part of my whole Christmas. It was definitely the longest time I've spent with that part of my family since my early teens, and an experience I hope that we can repeat.