Christmas, Party of 41



Photo by Paul Itkin (


A couple of months ago, I texted a picture of the first page of an old diary to my siblings and parents. It was the first page describing an adventure that started forty years ago when our family began traveling in a music.

My innocent text started a group texting adventure that has continued throughout the entire fall and has, in many ways, drawn our family even closer. I’ve loved reading the random jokes, the references to old memories, the details of my siblings’ lives. And seeing the pictures of each small accomplishment or happening.

And the closer we get to Christmas and the time we plan to spend together, the more the messages fly, some by e-mail. Although we will miss three of our sisters (Julia, Becky, and Joanna) at this gathering, the planning continues forward.

“Can everyone choose a dish to make for the Christmas meal and let me know what you’re bringing?” asks Jennifer, one of our best organizers. She also sends a schedule of the day, listing activities with their appropriate times. Later, she e-mails that Mom desires us to bring our own coffee. Makes sense.

Matt is put in charge of the activities. Along with music performed by family members, a list of old skits (performed at camps and churches across the country) is trotted out:

  •  The King and I
  • Holding Up the Wall (very original name, complete with a stellar set of props: boards, poles, strings, sticks)
  • A skit by Deborah where she acted like a little girl with pony tails (huh?)
  • A skit where Jon fights against God, narrated by Jennifer (gotta see this one)
  • A skit where Deborah and Jennifer are on the same cruise–Deborah is a country bumpkin in third class and Jennifer is an elegant lady in first class

“Jon, could you do “A Peach in the Orchard”? asks Matt.

“Not sure I could pull it off, but I could try,” Jon says. (This is an old family favorite, usually performed by Pat Cassidy, a family friend and an amazing actor. He traveled with the family in the early days.)

Conversation switches to the gift exchange and devotional and Christmas breakfast. But the group texting has connected us in more ways than we may know. It has become a prayer chain, a bulletin board, a newsletter of all the highlights of our lives. When Brad and Deborah’s plans change (due to a health crisis in their extended family) and they have to leave early,  we re-arrange the schedule to still include them–and no one seems to miss a beat.

I’m sure I will be somewhere in the midst of all the insanity, smiling and talking and mentally taking notes of all that I see. Quietly observing when no one knows. (Shh. Don’t tell anyone.) I will savor every minute, knowing this might be the last time I see some of my favorite people for a long time.

Once when I was taking a Creative Writing class in college, I attempted to describe a family reunion at our cabin with a cinquain. (I apologize for the lack of space between stanzas–apparently WordPress does not care for my spacing.)

Here’s a snapshot of our gatherings. Enjoy.

 Family Reunion

Crammed rooms,

Swarming kids of

Every single size and shape.

Rafters ringing with energy–



Chatting softly,

Sharing news, snatching bites–

Platters heaping, coffee brewing–

Low hum.


Sweeping, chorus

Strumming, children dancing,

Temples throbbing–music’s madness.

I smile.

I hope your family celebration is filled with love and laughter. Merry Christmas!


3 thoughts on “Christmas, Party of 41

  1. biblescrapbooking says:

    K, I tried to leave this with my phone, but I don’t think it worked.
    I have always been frustrated since we stopped going to Maine for Christmas because we have no family here, my brother is gone, so it is just my parents…whom I am with all the time. My cousins have kids I never get to see, but we can’t afford to go to Maine. I still try to make the best of it, as I realize that there is so much more to Christmas than being with all the family, but it is still frustrating at times. Usually I will remind myself that I still have my parents and puppy…..until he died a few weeks ago. Well, this last weekend made me realize something. I fell last Wednesday, while ice skating, and my neck began hurting the next day. The pain continued to get worse, and so Sunday night I went to our local emergency room, they ran a cat scan, and found what was believed to be a fracture, and in a very dangerous spot. They then transferred me to Pittsburgh, where I was told I would likely have surgery….I figured I would be stuck in a hospital for Christmas….not my favorite idea. Well, they did another Cat scan, and an MRI. They found that the spot that looked like a fracture was actually a calcium deposit, and that the neck pain was caused by a sprained muscle, and possible torn ligaments. They then gave me meds, and last night released me.
    I certainly have so much to be thankful for this Christmas, as I am not stuck in a hospital anymore (Though I do get to cross that and an ambulance ride off any list of things I have not done before….Not like I ever wanted to do that.) I have wonderful parents. My Mom had to work, but my Dad took the day off to be there with me. I get to spend Christmas with my parents, not everyone has parents to spend it with. I have a wonderful church family, which I will see some of on Christmas Day. I have a job….with co-workers, and managers who were concerned if I would be okay, and kept calling me for updates, if I could not update them. (That is a first to feel cared about by my work.) I have friends who were contacting me left and right to see how I was. Some who have even offered to help pay if I want to see a chiropractor. I really am so blessed. Reading this post made me start to miss the hustle and bustle of my growing family, but then made me also realized that, like you talked about the memories, I have the memories of my Christmas times I got to spend with all those cousins, Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, my parents, and my brother. God has blessed me with a very good memory, so I can cling to those things…not everyone gets to remember things from their past…and not everyone has a past they want to remember. No, my past wasn’t perfect (whose was?) But I have been so blessed. Best of all I get to celebrate that my Lord came to earth, to a family who was also separated from their family, He came because He loved me. He came to die. (And Still He Came) Praise the Lord for that comfort. Love you, and have a wonderful Christmas with your family, and cherish the time with them.


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