This is a topic where you could find plenty of other people out there with much more educated and helpful thoughts for reading. There are enough blogs and articles out there covering all sides and aspects. Instead, I thought I’d share a story from my life. Enjoy.
I could write several posts simply introducing all of my immediate family members, not to mention aunts, uncles, and cousins galore. Let me sum it all up to say, I have a lot of family. I am blessed to have almost all of them here in Mobile with me. My cousins (all 30 or so) have always been more like sisters and brothers then ‘relatives’. Holidays are chaotic, to say the least, but they are overflowing with laughter, food, music, and legendary stories. We have traditions that we hold tight to, things I have experienced every year as far back as I can remember- (Christmas Eve is spent at Grandma Wattiers, and we eat green enchiladas). We have the traditions that we don’t realize we are holding tight to until we try to go without them (the year mom didn’t make pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving because she didn’t think we’d care and all six siblings nearly cried, then made a last minute trip to walmart for pie ingredients). Then we have the traditions that have yet to be made.
Thanksgiving 2009 carried on like every other year. Food, family, food, friends, food, laughter, and more food. After all the festivities (and did I mention food?) a lot of the cousins got together for a movie night. I can’t remember what we watched but both movies were long and epic and enabled us to drift in and out of our food comas and still be involved in quality time together. It was about 11pm when the last movie ended and we began waking up with a renewed sense of energy and thoughts of ‘what now?’ Several of us, over the years at different times, had gone shopping early on Black Friday, but this year the outlet malls over in Foley were opening up at midnight on Thanksgiving night. The question was posed, and it didn’t take long for a house full of people to begin scrambling for socks and shoes, jackets, scarfs, and spending money.
‘Did you ask your mom?’ ‘Don’t you have to work tomorrow?’ ‘Can I borrow some money?’ and many other words were exchanged, and next thing you know we were all crammed in a mini van for an hour long drive to go shopping at midnight.
Crazy? Of course. There were so many people we had to walk in lines and hang on to the hoodie of the person in front of us so we wouldnt get separated. We all wanted to look at different stores but we wanted to be together, so we stayed together as a group and everyone went in every store. Every one of the hundreds of people around us were saying ‘Look at this!’ Or ‘Hey, wait! I want to look in here.’ Or ‘I’m ready to go, I’m going to wait outside.’ So we did what all normal families would do, we came up with code words, and a few animal sounds, to signal each other. The words have changed over the years, but for instance, if you wanted to stop the line of hoodie-holding relatives plowing through the crowds, and go inside a store, you shouted out ‘Penguin!’ If you heard ‘penguin’ you also shouted ‘penguin’ and it carried on until everyone stopped. Once inside a store we would split up and look at different things but when we were ready to go we’d start saying ‘Quack!’. No one else was quacking (obviously) so it was pretty easy to find each other and regroup.
Some shopping was done that night, and man, the bargains were amazing to find, but the memories don’t revolve around shopping. Fast forward a few years (tomorrow night will be the fourth year of this adventure) and we talk about freezing together while waiting in line at Starbucks, singing Lady Gaga in the car on the drive over, eating Ihop for breakfast after we’ve shopped till we dropped, the time I shouted ‘OMG! TAYLOR SWIFT!’ so we could all skip line without being noticed, and the time my cousin Amy got stuck in one of the kiddie rides.
Some years various aunts, uncles, parents, and grandparents have joined in depending on how adventurous they are feeling. Some people come with a list and get their Christmas presents bought, some people come with only a couple dollars in their pockets. It looks different every year but you can always count on a good memory.
As time passes and people live life, things change. New people are brought in, old people are taken away. The traditions will vary and change, but there are always opportunities to make memories with whoever is around you.