My Real Family Circus

Even though every blogger *officially* had to turn in their Thanksgiving report days ago, I'm chronicling mine anyway today because I have finally finally recovered from the exhaustion of the trip, and I don't want to let it pass by without storing some of the happy memories.

So you can go away now, if you want... I have a hard time believing anyone really enjoys reading about someone else's thanksgiving nearly a week after it came and went!

Thanksgiving with my family was amazing. The food was all cooked completely from scratch, with ZERO shortcuts. And... the real BFD... My Dad was impressed with my mashed potatoes which were fluffy and melt-in-your-mouth-creamy to perfection... nary a lump. (Since I had to beg him to let me take over this dish this year, much of my pride hung in the balance soooo I was really glad it did not go before a fall!)

It was cute how my little sister experienced the wonder of stuffing this year. She is 14, and I was almost exactly her age when I discovered stuffing and realized, as she did, "WHAT have I been missing all these years?!" My Dad's from-scratch stuffing was the best part of everything, by far.

My brothers spoiled Will rotten all weekend. Moses lifted him up into the driver's seat of his Mountaineer and let him "beep beep" for reallll. It was momentous.

Joey, my baby brother, played hide and seek with Will all afternoon when we went to Table Rock State Park (very close to my fam's house) for a cold picnic by a huge outdoor fire on Saturday.

I hate recycling pics from Instagram, but I want them all here for the sake of memories :).

roaring fire. (It was freezing in the mountains on Saturday!)

I am in love with this pic I snapped of Will trying to find "Oh-ey". It's so beautiful - something out of "The Snowman" or a Garth Williams illustration.

I love this. Joey has always had a special place in my heart - I was almost 13 when he was born, and as my youngest sibling, he sort of brought out all my mama-instincts. I learned how warm to make the bath water with him, what body part to wipe off first when taking him out of the high chair (hands before face cause boys will grab their face as soon as you wipe it), how to change a diaper in seconds... So many invaluable lessons in loving a little guy that have resurfaced instinctively when I might have felt otherwise overwhelmed with my own baby.

Seeing him be so attentive and sweet to Will is just like a little circle of life to me.

When we get together, my family doesn't ever just sit around talking or (gasp) watching TV!... We always have crazy, hilarious, memorable adventures. And as a traveling mother who can barely keep track of my tot's socks, I have grown increasingly grateful that my Dad never relies on us to plan these adventures, but thinks ahead for all of them himself. Such a blessing!

My Dad planned a whole bunch of stuff for us to do - the aforementioned afternoon at Table Rock,
a long leisurely bike ride on the Swamp Rabbit trail in Greenville...

... Which involved a crash , a twisted ankle and a popped tire, and a long walk back (all for one sister lolol)... Will rode along on a carriage behind Jason's bike and squealed like a banshee when we went downhill.

To grow up in a big family is to grow up in a crazy, hilarious, constantly-entertaining circus. It looks like nothing but a whole lot of chaos from the outside, but it's a gift I will never take for granted. I love each of my siblings so dearly, I cannot imagine my life without any one of them. It's the gift that keeps on giving, too... Seeing the joy and delight all his crazy, loud, happy Aunts and Uncles brings to Will is priceless. The first night we were there for supper after a long cold ride through country roads to avoid all the traffic on 85, Will sat quietly next to me at the head of the table, his eyes wide with shy interest. When he finally made a noise, and the whole table of 10 turned their heads to his, laughing and "aww"ing at how cute he was, a little twinkle lit up his eyes, and he spent the rest of the meal loudly saying "Ha!!" for the echoing laughter of his adorers.

I will miss my family so much this Christmas, my first one without them! Last year, Jason and I had to come to an unfortunate but necessary decision regarding holidays. All of our family lives around the same town, (though they are all about 30 minutes away from each other), and since Jason's parents split up when he was very young, that's three total visits to make. We gave it a go just divvying up the holidays our first year married (a little time here, a little time there) and it was TERRIBLE. I was pregnant, and that Christmas and Thanksgiving are still a giant blur. Until we have children old enough to have our own Christmases as a little family up here in Charlotte, we decided to take turns which side of the family we would see at each holiday. Much, much better choice. It's tough and we always feel bad one way or another, but we're lucky to have incredibly understanding parents who just want us to do what is best for our own family. Thank God for unselfish parents!

It will really suck being away from my big happy family at Christmas - cause nobody does it quite like they do. But I was so glad for every moment of this exhausting, loud, chaotic visit, because time flies and my brothers and sisters grow up and the memories amid the noise are the most precious treasures.

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