Friday, December 28, 2012

Four Christmases

I've always thought of myself as having a small but mighty family.  There's me, two brothers, a dad, a mom and her husband, and two living grandparents.  My dad doesn't have any siblings while my mom had two (her older sister passed away earlier this year, and her brother lives out of state).  Holidays were only complicated in that Christmas Eve was at my mom's while Christmas day was at my grandmother's with my dad.  Otherwise, they were comfortable.  I was surrounded by people I'd known most or all of my life.

This past Christmas was my last as an unmarried woman, but I've already reaped the benefits of my growing family.  I had not one, not two, not three but four Christmas celebrations in four days, with presents to give and presents to receive at each.  The first, Saturday, we went to Andrew's dad and stepmom's house.  She scheduled it three days before Christmas so everyone (nine of us in all) would be able to visit our other families on Christmas Eve and Christmas day.  I was extremely grateful for that, and also for the thoughtful gift I received: a new coffee machine that makes an excellent brew.

The next day, we had his mom and stepfather over for brunch.  I cooked!  I followed a recipe and didn't burn anything!  We exchanged gifts, including a necklace and ornament for his mom that I picked up at Ten Thousand Villages, a lovely shop that sells fair-trade crafts from around the world.  I received a really cool pair of moonstone earrings as well as tickets to an upcoming musical.  Afterward we watched the Bengals beat the Steelers to clinch a playoff spot, and played Blokus, an awesome game that involves laying colored tiles of varying shapes and sizes onto a board.

On Christmas Eve, we went to my mom's house for dinner.  My 97-year-old grandfather was there, as well as my two brothers and my youngest brother's girlfriend.  We ate dinner, opened way too many presents, and then played Scategories.  Few people can make me laugh like my brothers can (they're the ones too cool to smile in the picture below, ha).

Finally, Christmas Day, we went to my grandma's house.  My dad had just returned from Kenya a couple days earlier, bringing his young Kenyan friend, Benson.  Ben, 31 years old and from the Turkana region of Kenya, is currently working at the American Embassy in Nairobi.  But it is a temporary, low-paying internship.  He hopes to get a better, more permanent job, whether in Kenya, the United States, or even Canada.  He has a master's degree, having written his thesis on the environmental impact of refugee camps.  Turkana is not far from the Kakuma U.N. refugee camp, which draws people from nearby Somalia, Uganda, and parts of Kenya.

In addition to my dad and Ben, my grandma's nephew and his girlfriend came for Christmas.  Dave is from San Francisco, where my grandma grew up, and he relocated to Kentucky a couple years ago for work. He and his girlfriend have been so kind to my grandma, taking her out to dinner or the casino, or just calling with regularity.  With them, me and Andrew, my brothers, my brother's girlfriend, and Nana, we had a full house.  Ben, a tall, intelligent, and soft-spoken young man, told me that it must be nice having such a large family.

So I guess we're no longer small but mighty; rather, we continue to grow.  How lucky can a person get?

(I had just hit the self-timer on the camera and had to run across the room!)

Blokus Photo from

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