Since I was a kid, and since my mom was a kid, there’s been a holiday tradition in our family that I’ve looked forward to every year. It used to happen every Christmas Eve, but now it usually happens the weekend before Christmas. It’s getting together with my siblings, cousins, grandparents, and aunts and uncles for dinner and a visit from Santa.
Big deal, you might say. But why it’s always been so cool for me is the sheer amount of people there. My mom has 8 siblings, and each of them had at least a couple of kids. I have more cousins than I can count, and almost all of them have a couple of kids now too.
I have four siblings, and right now my parents have 13 grandkids. So when just me and my immediate family get together, there’s over 25 people. Add in all of my cousins and their kids and the rest of my mom’s family, we are probably over 75 people. It is absolute craziness and a lot of fun.
My favorite holiday tradition starts at an aunt’s house and everybody brings something for dinner, potluck style. Feeding that many people is no small feat, but it always works out just fine.
After eating, the kids sit down in front of the Christmas tree and start singing Christmas carols so that Santa will hear us and find his way to the house. This is one of my favorite parts of the celebration. The older kids sing loudly, knowing the words to the songs for years. The younger kids sing too, trying to put the words together. It’s a loud, happy sound to hear.
While songs are being sang, Santa is getting ready. He’s normally played by one of the dads or a cousin’s friend that we’ve talked into doing it. We try to get somebody the older kids won’t recognize. It doesn’t always work.
Every family brings gifts for their own kids. So I buy and wrap something small for my three kids. This way every kids gets something that they’ve already hoped to get.
Then Santa comes in and sits down by the tree. How does he get to the house? By his sleigh of course! He parks it on the roof, and some years we can even hear the reindeer land (my uncles and cousins get on top of the roof and stomp around…the kids love it!)
After Santa gets situated, he calls each child’s name to give them their gift. They come up and sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what they want for Christmas. We used to have them all sing Santa a song, but with so many kids it takes too long.
There’s always kids who cry (the littles) or ones that won’t talk. And it’s always fun to see the magic and wonder in all the kids’ eyes.
Someday…a lot sooner than I realize…I’ll be watching my kids’ kids do the same thing. And know that we are passing along a tradition to them that has been going on in our family for 50+ years. I hope they enjoy it as much as I still do.