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 want...so 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!
My sister's dog, Sophie.