My dad is from a big family (he is the first of 10 kids, almost all of whom have had 3, 4, 5 or even 7 kids of their own). So our get-togethers are always big and crazy. There is always a schedule to keep us on track and all kinds of fun traditions and activities. My Aunt Mary (#7) is an amazing hostess and organizer of this annual gathering. I am so glad she makes the effort to get us all together, because it's so fun to see everyone and catch up! Since my dad was the oldest, my siblings and I are some of the oldest grandchildren, and as a result, I spent a lot of time babysitting my baby cousins when I was younger. These "baby cousins" are now full-fledged adults, and it was so weird this year seeing them home from college, with significant others, with jobs, and playing with Charlie and Evie like I used to with them. Gotta love a big family! :)
Here is my cousin Jake with Charlie. Jake was one of my favorite little ones to babysit growing up, and it was really fun seeing him with Charlie.
My amazing Aunt Mary, who organizes and hosts us all every year. Charlie loves her, if you can't tell from the photo. :) Here, she is starting off the "introductions," an annual tradition that has turned out to be one of my favorites. She pairs us up, we interview each other, and then we spend a few minutes telling the family about our person's year. I find out so much about my family members during this time! Even Charlie participated this year. I couldn't believe he spoke into the microphone, but he actually seemed to love the crowd. He said his name, his age, reported what Santa says ("HoHoHo"), and wished everyone a "Mewee Cwismas!"
Charlie amused himself during introductions...
My aunts and cousins brought lots of toys for Charlie to play with. He loved these little trains!
My dad's youngest brothers, Mike and Joe, are always hilarious during introductions (and at other times as well, of course :).
Evie was a little overwhelmed after 3 days of parties, but she tolerated the gathering pretty well. She was a little fussy in the crowd, but as soon as one of us would take her back into a quiet room, she would return to being the happiest baby ever--smiling, cooing, and waving her arms and legs around. Evie may need a little more "alone" time than Charlie does, but she sure is sweet when she gets it! :)
Here she is making eyes at some of her admirers... :)
One of our favorite traditions growing up was decorating gingerbread houses. Sweet Mary had gotten gingerbread houses and candy for Charlie to decorate. He didn't quite get the idea yet, but he sure loved the M&Ms.
This picture cracks me up. We were watching old home videos and Charlie, eager to do anything Ben was doing, crawled up on the ottoman with him and laid down just like he was doing. They were watching a video of my brother, at about Ben's age, playing with Jake, when he was about Charlie's age. So funny to see the same things repeated in a new generation!
[And notice the lovie carefully stuffed in Charlie's new "Big Bus" for safekeeping. :)]
3 Christmas celebrations down, 1 more to go!