Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time...

As part of the holiday compromise that allowed us to go to Ireland and miss Thanksgiving back home, Justin and I had generated a plan months ago wherein we could divide our time at Christmas between our two families but still do all of our celebrating together. The lynchpin of this plan was the fact that the annual Wyatt family gathering in White Hall no longer falls on the actual day of Christmas. We either hold it earlier or later in order to accommodate the schedules of our ever-expanding ranks. Because Justin's family celebrates on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and those fell in the middle of the week this year, we were able to accommodate both, even though my family event is a five-hour drive away.

How good does Mom look? I'm so proud of her!

As a result, Justin was able to experience the full splendor and madness of a Wyatt family Christmas. This year was an especially good year for him to attend, as every twig and leaf of the family tree was in attendance, even my uncle, Pat, who lives in Florida and whose work schedule seldom allows him to come to Illinois for the holidays, and my cousin, Jenny, who just moved back to Illinois from Las Vegas. Sadly, I think the last time all of us were in one place was for my beloved Paw-Paw's funeral, back in 2005, so it was nice to have everyone under one roof once more.

Grandma with all of her kids.

We marked the occasion with heaps and heaps of food, including an usually abundant supply of dips and appetizers culled from my aunts and cousins' Pinterest obsessions. Truly, Grandma overdid it this year; we could have easily fed a family twice our size, and the Wyatt brood is formidable in the first place. There were sandwiches, pulled pork sliders, chicken and noodles, mac and cheese, multiple salads, salads, pies, cookies, brownies, and undoubtedly more dishes than I can even remember. If Grandma shows her love through food, then she must love us very much indeed.

My entire generation.

The children ran around like little lovable demons, and for the first time in a long time, there was no new baby to fawn over. Perhaps the size of the family has finally stabilized for the time being...

There was also an entire table full of gifts for all the children, but perhaps no one received more gifts than Grandma Betsy, who is the recipient of everyone's gratitude and generosity. The rest of the adults relied on the luck of the draw to win their presents in the form of gift cards and cash prizes through the annual bingo game. I struck the jackpot for the second year in a row, taking home the hundred dollar prize, eliciting allegations of favoritism, since my parents run the game. It truly was luck, however, as I was the second-to-last person to achieve a bingo and pick my prize. My envelope sat there practically the whole time and nobody chose it.

In keeping with all the family portraits.

All in all, I would say that Justin was probably a little overwhelmed by the entire Wyatt Christmas spectacle, but in the end, I think he managed to enjoy himself. If anything, I think he understands me a little better now, and I love that he is becoming a part of my family as much as he is already a part of my life. It meant a lot to me to be together for this celebration, and to share this experience with him. I look forward to sharing a lifetime of Christmases with Justin and the little two-person family we are building.

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