Monday, December 21, 2015

It's Tradition

Every December we pack our bags, load up the car, and take the 51/2hr drive to Chicago for our Arends family annual Christmas gathering.  Leaving town on the weekend before Christmas is a challenge with so many final things to do for the holiday here at home.  What I discovered however, if I do take this time, I'm blessed beyond measure. I get to see siblings that I only visit with a few times a year.  I catch up on all the news and see the young nieces and nephews as they grow.  I spend quality time with my Mom....time that won't always be there.  My sister and I laugh and talk about life, the good and the bad things that happen to everyone.  But mostly we laugh!  Two of my brothers weren't able to be here and we missed them.  My niece, Katie, and her hubbie Blake hosted again this year.  It was my nephew's turn but he and his wife just had a baby in early December.  The scene is pretty much the same each year....good food, lots of kiddos, Santa, presents, white elephant gifts...those are silly things that you might have stored in a closet or attic that you really don't we wrap them up pretty and have fun with them!  If you've brought a white elephant gift you pick a number and when it's your turn you pick from the pile.  You can steal someone else's gift if you want.  We really have a good time with this game and it costs nothing.  Pictures are taken and of course the food is always fabulous.  This year we had the party early...brunch...because my great-niece was in a production of the Nutcracker ballet and their family had to be there in the afternoon.   Here are the pics...similar to last year and the years before...but as we age and families grow or loved ones pass on, it's a tradition that helps keep the family together.  As the song says..."I'll be home for Christmas. You can count on me"....It's tradition!
Our beautiful matriarch! Mom!
Decorations are lovely.
My sis preparing a dessert.
The newest member of the family...Adelena with her Daddy, nephew.
Cousins...they are your first best friend!  Ellie and Alexis
The boy cousins...Drew and Mason.
The older cousins...this reminded me of when I was young and would connect with one of my cousins away from the group and just sit and talk and have a good time!
All the kiddos gathered together to wait for Santa...and here he is! Santa is actually my niece Katie's partner....she's a detective and he has come in his Santa suit for the last few years. 
So fun!
After Santa heads back to the North Pole the family gathers for the white elephant game...
Perhaps you might get a giant sock monkey.
Or a super ugly sweater!  So fun!
No, Mom didn't win this in the game...she is holding her great-granddaughter for the first sweet!  Time flew by this weekend.  We left in the rain this morning and thankfully had a smooth ride home.  Chubbs came too and did great.  He met his cousin too.
My sister's dog, Sophie.
They got along great outdoors...indoors however, proved to be a challenge. Sophie isn't used to sharing her space with another dog.  Chubbs could care less and does well with other dogs but after a little scuffle, we kept them separated indoors...all was good then!
Chubbs blended into my Mom's living room area rug...they were perfectly matched!


Shady Del Knight said...

Hi, dear YaYa!

I am happy to know you made it out to Chicago and back safe and sound. I am also happy to learn that Chubbs did well on the trip and was a good dog even when his cousin was mean to him. God bless Chubbs! It does my heart good to see your mother. She looks the same every single year, beautiful and youthful. What a joy it must have been for her to hold her new baby great-granddaughter. Her smile says it all. I can feel the Christmas spirit radiating from the screen as I look at the pictures you took at your family's get together. I am very happy for you and your wonderful family, sharing love and laughter again this holiday season.

Happy holidays to one and all, dear friend YaYa!

betty said...

Yea, glad to hear Chubbs made the trip and seemed to have a bit of fun too :) Dogs will be dogs I imagine. I've said it, but it bears repeating because its the truth; your mom is such a beautiful lady and I'm sure that is inside and out :) What a lovely tradition to do from year to year! I'm glad you take advantage of it :) How sweet too with a new baby in the family!


Rick Watson said...

Your mom looks great. And I just love Ol' Chubbs.

Julia said...

Your mom is so blessed to have all of you gathering at her place every year. What a wonderful tradition. I'm so glad that you can take the time off work and spend quality time with your mom. She looks fantastic. Chubb is fitting right in because he feels so welcome there. Have a safe trip back home.
Merry Christmas.

Susan Anderson said...

Your mom looks wonderful! And so does the whole family. I admit to being a little envious that you are able to get yours together every year; we are on the every-other-year schedule now with all the marriages and such. There is nothing in this world I love more than getting the whole family in one room to laugh and talk all night.

Merry Christmas, my friend!


gin said...

Love love love your family Christmas post every year. You are blessed. And Chubbs seems so happy to have a fur-ever home.
Merry Christmas!

Kim said...

You are very lucky to have a large loving family. And your Mom is simply ageless. Merry Christmas!

Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...

We play that same game at our Christmas gathering. It's really a lot of fun.
Last year I ended up with a beautiful bread daughter bought it and ended up with it back. LOL She bought it because she loved it and since I have two vintage ones..I let her have it back. :) Aren't families wonderful?

Stacy Crawford said...

Traditions are fun. We are finding some of ours are harder to do with adult children work schedules. It is time to make new ones.

selvageedge said...

What a blessing to get to visit with so many family members each year. I love our gatherings too. Have a very merry Christmas!

Munir said...

It is so nice to see your mom. She is amazing. God bless her. Also thanks for sharing pictures of this lovely gathering. The decorations, the food and more than anything it must have been priceless to see the kids growing up and of course the new baby adding fun to the occasion. I am so happy for you. Please give your mom abig hug for me. Happy Holidays and a Happy New year to every one.