This year we had ten members of our family stay with us for ten days during the holidays. They came from as close as Maryland to as far as Nice and Zurich. Luckily, our gracious friends lent us their apartment down the hall so we had the luxury of extra space, tons of food and lots of plans.
Our entire group numbered thirteen; with my five year old being the youngest and my 90 year old Grandmother being the most mature. The days were a flurry of comings and goings, shopping trips, over-indulgent meals, countless uncorked bottles, crazy sleeping arrangements, many visits with friends and lots and lots of family time. It was hectic, loud, hilarious, exhausting and beyond memorable.
The five kids in our group ranged in age from five to thirteen, a mix of boys and girls with interests as varied as fashion, football, reading and video games. They bonded with one another as only cousins can. Miraculously, there were no tears or tantrums. Instead, there were loads of giggles, and a record number of hugs and kisses. There was a genuinely beautiful and effortless connection between them all.
Being with family for an extended period of time can be… fascinating. No one knows your strengths, weaknesses, quirks, pet peeves, likes and dislikes quite like your family. No one can make you laugh out loud or want to scream, as quickly as a close relative. Our family is very close, very emotional and happily dysfunctional. We can read one another’s moods in a split second, we know which buttons to push and which we should avoid; we poke fun freely and seldom give each other space.
We share our opinions and give each other advice constantly (without being asked, of course) and we are able to annoy each other instantly and masterfully. But our intentions are always good and our love for one another is undeniable. At the heart of it all, we are a group of people who don’t see each other nearly as often as we’d like. We are a group who only want the best for each other and we are who we are, in large, part because of our joined life stories.
There were so many moments during the week that I’ll forever treasure. Christmas Eve was extra special with my grandmother here, her first trip to NY in over thirteen years. Seeing her surrounded by her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren was extremely moving.
My entire family spent Christmas day with my husband’s family. TWENTY-ONE of my favorite people together in one place! It was, hands down, one of the best days ever. My daughters may not have truly realized just how lucky they were to spend the day with both sets of grandparents, their great-grandmother, all their aunts, uncles AND cousins, in one place – but I did.
The whirlwind continued all week with the ladies in our group enjoying a hotel night in the city complete with matching pajamas, lots of champagne, and endless girl talk. We all headed to Chinatown for dim sum in the pouring rain one afternoon, with some of the kids bravely trying chicken feet while others stuck to shrimp dumplings.
One day, my husband gathered all the kids around the table and taught them how to make his grandmother’s meatballs. We feasted on the delectable meal, passed down from generations, and went around the borrowed card tables, sharing our New Year’s resolutions. Interspersed with all the outings and events we recounted old stories, caught up with one another’s lives and did a great deal of hanging out on couches.
The days passed and new memories were made. Before we knew it, suitcases were packed and the visit came to an end. There were tears and lingering hugs as we said our good-byes. We don’t know when the next time will be when we’ll all be together again.
Now, in an apartment that is way too quiet, I find myself overwhelmed with the blessings of my family. While no family is perfect, I wouldn’t trade my crazy, strong-minded, wonderful, loving family for the world. I’m proud to be related to them. I am who I am, in large part, because of their role in my life. Each one of them fills my heart with boundless love.
I hope the New Year brings families everywhere opportunities to get together, look past differences or dysfunctions and truly appreciate the blessings that are unique to familial bonds.
Prior to becoming a stay at home mom, Mina was an HR Recruiter for years. Now her time is spent happily juggling the demands of two young daughters while trying to expose them to the endless adventures the city has to offer
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