You know all those sayings about how not everything stays the same and nothing gold stays and you can’t go home again and all that stuff? Well, I think sometimes things have to change in order for them to go back to how they were if that makes sense. And I think this Christmas in our family is the perfect example of that. We’ve had a lot of heartbreak and changes since we lost my uncle and my grandad and a lot of those changes weren’t so much on the good side of things if you ask me but I think we are finally going back to how things used to be. I might not always like my family but I’m actually glad for this one happening.
Each year we used to go to my cousin Ashley’s house and have a cookie party with just the girls (and the boys when they were still little). My mama and me, my aunt Robin and Ashley, my aunt Staci and Tori, and my grandma would all go down for the day to bake cookies together; each of us would bring one of our favorite recipes to share with everyone else. There would be a lot of eating and a lot of talking and a lot of cookies when all was said and done. Last year, we didn’t do it. Last year was Brylin’s first Christmas where he wasn’t some little blob of a baby. Instead, Bry was taken to Nana’s house (Robin’s) and Mama (Ashley) and Nana baked cookies for Santa with our little munchkin.
Sometime between this Christmas and last, Ashley realized that we stopped actually being a family after we lost two very important people to us. We started doing things on our own, stopped spending time together, and gossiped about each other more than talked with each other. Let the tradition recommence! Only, we made things more family oriented than ever before now. We started with lunch together as we all chowed down on pizza and talked and watched the Redskins pre-game show. Then, the girls went down to the kitchen to start baking while the boys watched football. My Beezy loved it because he was able to play football with the big boys and help us decorate Christmas cookies. After all the treats were done, we joined the boys to watch the Steelers game and it was like we were a family again. There was no gossiping about each other or fighting (Okay, well, Tyler deserved being teased but that’s just the cousins). It was actual conversation and spending time together–something we haven’t really done since we lost Grandad.
It’s not the first time I’ve realized that things have been changing. Us girls also have a tradition of going shopping together the day before Thanksgiving so we can all help each other with buying Christmas presents. Munch (Yes, Brylin has about 8 million names we call him) got to come along with Angie and Jessie and Nana and Mommy and Gram and it was a good time. The past few years, it has been all about getting the shopping done, eating our dinner at the Food Court, and getting home. This year, things returned to the ways it used to be.
We laughed and goofed around in just about every store. We got the big news that Ashley is pregnant with Baby #2 (We find out what this one will be a few days into the new year). We genuinely had a decent time (We can’t ruin the whole night by dwelling on Gram’s constant negativity; we’ve all just accepted that’s who she is and there’s not a whole lot of nice coming out of her by this point). Beezy was such a good boy that we even gave him a special treat at the end of the night. He spent a whole day shopping and being a very good boy so he got to go with all his favorite girls to Sweet Frog for frozen yogurt. And let me tell you, that boy can out eat Miss Ice Cream Princess, me, when it comes to Sweet Frog. I guess that’s why Nana calls him her little sweet frog.
While we were all sitting around the TV watching the Steelers, my mama turned to Gram and asked if she missed this at her house every Sunday. Mama may have been being sarcastic and referring to all the yelling and football and talking and kids running around but Gram seemed to actually miss it when she said yes. We have a fairly large family when you get all the kids and grandkids and now great-grandkids together, it’s a mess but we used to all do that for dinner every Sunday at Gram and Grandad’s to watch football (We’re a football family). Then Ash and I grew up and got busy. The boys and Tori started having sports and school stuff. Grandad passed away and so did that little tradition (Unless the electricity or cable is out and the Steelers are playing). What we did was just like old times and it’s nice to see that each of us miss it in one way or another.
I think part of the reason behind us being a family again is because while we may be missing two loved ones, we have new members of the family who don’t replace the hole that was left but have found a new place in our hearts. Brylin and the new baby make us all want to be together again and give them that family that we had when me and Ashley were kids. Gram’s getting older and while she may be as mean as a snake to some of us in the family (I’m not saying I’m not close to being the favorite but yeah…), she is our grandmother/mother/mother-in-law. We’ve got Bruce in the family now, Robin’s finace. We are all really happy for her to find happiness again after she got depressed when Uncle Lester passed away. He isn’t Uncle Lester but he fits well into the family just like he’s always been there. Steven has been a part of our lives for quite some time but now he is Ashley’s husband and Brylin and the new baby’s daddy. It isn’t an easy thing being around our family. We are an awful big, loud, and opinionated group but they’ve all managed to accept and love us.
As much as I hated the changes that brought us here and I still miss Lester and Grandad like crazy even though it’s been five years, I’m glad that I’m getting my family back. Hopefully, we don’t lose it this time and in ten years or twenty years, if Michael and I have married and had kids, they will be able to spend time with everyone and have that same feeling. The babies now in the family might be having babies by that point, but little ones seem to be the driving force behind giving us this back so it seems to be a good thing. So, Merry Christmas and spend some time with your family!