Every year my extended family on my father’s side gathers at my grandparent’s house to celebrate Christmas together.  I have  five cousins on this side of the family.  We are all married, making us a group of ten.  Two of the five couples have children, adding another five to the group.  Throw in my parents, uncle, aunt and grandparents and we’re at twenty-one (sixteen adults and five children).  It is by far the largest family gathering of the season, since I am an only child and my husband has one sibling.

My cousin commented this year that the big gathering must be really different from my celebrations with immediate family.  I acknowledged that it is, but remarked on how much I enjoy it.  Something about a house full of friends and relatives, gathered around a table of food or watching children open gifts seems to capture the joy of the season in a way few other things can.

And while I truly do love this, I also equally love my quiet celebrations.  Opening gifts with my husband on Christmas Eve, reminds me of his proposal on the same day nine years ago.  Visiting with my parents around the cedar tree cut on their farm, laughing about its shedding needles, reminds me of my amazing childhood.  Helping my niece change the outfit on her new doll (multiple times) reminds me of how grateful I am for my extended family by marriage.

And today, in reflection on it all, I am simply humbled by the fact that I have so many people to celebrate with.  Loudly.  Quietly.  But most of all– gratefully.

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