Another one of my very favorite Christmas traditions is the annual Kirkendall Christmas gathering. Every year when I was little, we would pack up on the morning after Christmas and head to Houston to spend a few days with my dad's family. He is the oldest of ten children, and so my grandparents' house was this wonderful, raucous, exciting place for us to visit. I remember getting SO excited on the drive down there. My grandparents have passed away, but my sweet Aunt Mary (#7) still hosts our Christmas gathering every year. It is the only time that I see some of these family members, so it is a really special day for me. And because my dad is the oldest, a lot of our cousins are quite a bit younger and it is so fun to watch them grow and change. They are in high school, college, and post-college right now and all the decisions, challenges, and excitement brings back a lot of memories. And I loved seeing my kids enjoy the big, rollicking crew as much as I do. :)
Here is my wonderful Aunt Mary (doing our "introductions," where we find out what's happened in everyone's year; this never fails to produce some very interesting info :), who manages to host an awesome gathering every year despite having three kids and a very demanding career!
For the first time all holiday, Evie stepped out of her shell and really relaxed (surprising, since it was a big gathering). She especially loved playing with my Aunt Kate (#8) and her girls.
Totally bonding. :)
My Aunt Nan (#5) brought her boys' old trains for Charlie to play with. He couldn't believe how many amazing trains their was. He was fascinated with the large number of Thomases and loved the Christmas caboose!
Still enjoying herself...
Mary and Clint doing introductions. Mary is a doctor as well, and she is such a good mentor to Clint (and Sam).
Uncle Joe (#9) and my little cousin Mary Kathryn's boyfriend, Tyler.
Evie taking a turn with the microphone...
What happened to my shy little girl?
Mary Kathryn and Emily. Emily was the tiny little flower girl at my wedding, and seeing her in high school makes me feel SO old!
Luke and Caroline.
Grace Acuna and James.
Clint and Grace Atkins.
Charlie loved Luke, and their little dog!
Both of my kids loved Kate's girls. They were so sweet with them.
Grace and Emily helped Charlie decorate a gingerbread house. He was in heaven, and happy for me to keep my distance while he chowed down on the decorations. :)
Uncle Gene (Kate's husband) and Charlie's interactions were hilarious. Uncle Gene had a few "magic" tricks that he did for Charlie. One involved pulling his ear and blowing a tissue off his nose, which cracked Charlie up. The other involved an illusion where it looked like he was stuffing a fruit roll-up in his ear and pulling it out of his nose (gross, right?). Charlie was horrified by this second trick, and desperate to keep Gene from repeating it. Gene kept asking him if he wanted to see it again and Charlie would panic. I think he told him 100 times not to do that fruit roll-up trick again. He did request a few repeats of the first trick, but only after making sure there was going to be no more fruit roll-up tricks. His fear of the trick was so funny (and sad!). Gene also put on a fake mustache and sang "Feliz Navidad." Since then, Charlie has been requesting that I sing "Navida" just like "Mary's daddy." Ha!
This was the good trick. I wish I had a picture of Charlie's face when Gene performed the bad trick.
Mary, thank you SOOOO much for another wonderful Christmas celebration. These gatherings are so special to me and my family!