Once again, I am trying. It is hard to get in the spirit of the holidays when I am getting crappy sleep and everyone else is crabby, but I try. Yesterday my mother's family had out annual Cookie Exchange. We think it has been going on for about 22 years. My mother has 15 siblings (3 of which have passed), so all our events are a Paarrty. But this event has always been very special. I know my Grandmother used to be a part of it, but since her death, my Grandfather comes in from Wisconsin and all the women of the family gather. Well, as many as we can fit in the house that is. Growing up I vaguely remember the event, but I do remember the cookies. My Mom would come home with 15 different cookies and various craft projects my aunts would make and hand out. We do not exchange gifts in that family, so this was the holiday gift. My brothers and I loved it! We each had our favorites and would divide the bounty accordingly.
As I got older, I started to look forward to the event more then the cookies. I consider myself a fairly strong woman, and being amongst the women in my family, I see the strength we carry together. I know any amount of strength I have came from them. All of them.
Through the years, my cousins grew, we went through our 'I-hate-my-family' stages, we had our own children and, unfortunately, some people have not come back and some have decided to stay away. While they are missed, the women that remain, an astounding number in of itself, are a motley crew of women. We have all ages (even some teenagers enjoy coming), different religious beliefs, different political affiliations, and everything in between. But we are family and family gathers. We laugh. A lot. We give each other crap, we support each other and most of all, we love each other.
So this year, I brought my daughters. I am so blessed to be able to have my daughters be a part of this group of women. We split rooms, 1st generation in one, 2nd generation in another and cookies were passed out with side splitting humor and more then one tear shed in remembrance of the graceful woman who brought us all together. The two rooms were full. I looked at the faces of the women who, I pray, will help keep this tradition alive and realized how very honored I am. Having my girls made me realize how much love one can feel. As I reflect on the day, I realize that it is these women that taught me that.
On a side note, my Mother was giving her Cookie Speech and had my 21 month old daughter in front of her. As she described the Socks she was giving out (yes, socks not cookies), she kicked her foot out and hit Adriana! she flew across the room! I have not laughed that hard in a LONG time!
All this being said, I am so happy that I went yesterday. It put me in the holiday spirit. Now I can finish putting up the lights, get a tree and actually wrap a gift! Okay, that may be too much, maybe I will start with just wishing you all a happy holiday season!