We just finished hosting my family for a week. This has become our Christmas tradition, and it's usually the only time of the entire year that all of my siblings and parents are all together. This is how it went:
Last Saturday--My brother Joshua (He goes to Mississippi State and plays golf for them.) came to stay at our house. We watched the entire first season of "The Office." So hilarious and yet so painful to watch.
Last Sunday--My sister Laurie and her husband Baine (They live in Seattle, WA.) came to stay at our house. My mom came over for a little while, too. I went to the grocery store to buy supplies for the week. I spent almost $500 (People repaid me later.) but managed to fit it all in one basket.
Monday--My dad and his wife Laura (They live in Searcy, AR.) came to stay at our house. My sister Christy, her husband Jeremy, Tyler (5), and Tucker (2) (They live in Baton Rouge, LA.) came to stay at our house. The "grown-up" guys all had new Nerf dart guns, which they played with constantly in the house. The guys stayed up till 3:00 playing with Jeremy's new Wii.
Tuesday--My sister Julie, her husband Jay, Harris (11), Anna Claire (10), Seth (7), and Joel (5) (They live in Chesapeake, VA.) came to stay at our house. After the kids all went to bed, the grown-ups opened Christmas presents together. The guys all got remote-control helicopters, which were also played with in the house. We gave Jay a t-shirt that said, "I ruined Christmas." on it. It was hilarious, because it was from a story that occurred the previous Christmas. Even if I retold it here, it just wouldn't be as funny. Several of us played Bananagrams for a long time, which is a very fun game. The guys stayed up till 3:00 playing with Jeremy's new Wii.
Wednesday--The kids (nine of them, in case you lost count) got to open their Christmas presents. Laurie and Baine left to go spend the night at Baine's dad's house. Kevin's brother Jerrod, his wife Jessie, Ren (3), and Mae (1) came over for a little while. We grilled hamburgers and hot dogs and made S'Mores over the fire pit in the backyard. Several of us played Bananagrams. The guys all stayed up till 3:00 playing with Jeremy's new Wii.
Thursday--My dad and Laura left to go back to Arkansas. The rest of us packed up and caravanned down to my mother's house, which is about an hour away from mine. Laurie and Baine met us there. Mama (a.k.a. Cammie) had cooked a huge meal for us, and we all enjoyed it (and ate too much). We opened Christmas presents. My mother had made pillows for all the kids and aprons for all the mothers and daughters. Then all the dads and sons loaded back up and drove back to our house. The moms and daughters stayed at my mother's house for a girls' night. We all got in our pajamas and snuggled up to watch Little Women. Even four-year-old Katie stayed awake till midnight to watch the whole thing. I slept on the living room floor with my daughters and niece. The Tooth Fairy came during the night, since Callie had lost a tooth earlier that evening. (Callie left her a note asking if she might be able to keep her tooth--for sentimentality--so the Tooth Fairy left the tooth under my pillow, and the dollar was left under Callie's.) I'm sure the guys all stayed up till 3:00 playing with Jeremy's new Wii.
Friday--To celebrate my mother's birthday a day early, all the girls drove to Collins to shop at an antique mall. We loved browsing through it all. I bought a very pretty vase. Then we went back to my mother's house and ate leftovers from the day before and gave Mama her birthday presents. She enjoyed them all. Julie, Anna Claire, Christy, and Laurie then left to take Laurie to the airport in Jackson. (Baine was meeting her there.) My girls decided they wanted to take a bath in Cammie's big bathtub, so they did. And I took advantage of a few quiet moments and took a nap. Then the girls and I made our way home. My mother came to the house later and watched Kit Kittridge with the grandkids while the guys were watching football on TV. The Tooth Fairy made another appearance that night, since my nephew Seth lost a tooth! The guys all stayed up till 3:00 playing with Jeremy's new Wii.
Saturday--Jay ran in the Mississippi Blues Marathon, which literally comes in front of our house on the 22nd mile. So we all had signs and cheers for him and all the other runners. The kids had a great time handing out Twizzlers and bananas to any runners that wanted them. Our supply wasn't very big, though. We also had the Rocky theme music playing, in hopes of inspiring the runners on their last four miles! My nephew Harris had run the kids' race earlier that morning and did well. After the race, we had 30-something people at our house for lunch and hanging out. Then slowly everyone began to leave. By 8:00 it was only the five of us left in the house. And, no, we didn't stay up till 3:00 playing with Jeremy's new Wii. He took it with him.
Today--I crawled out of bed around 12:30.
There are obviously a lot of moments not mentioned here. Many of them good, some of them difficult, but all of them a part of our family's relationships. Much time was spent in the kitchen preparing for and cleaning up after meals for the 20 of us, which is always a group effort. We made chili, lasagna, taco salad, and lots of desserts. (Chocolate is the common denominator in the Bevell family.)
The sisters bond and catch up on each other's lives in the kitchen or wherever we happen to catch each other in the midst of all the chaos. The guys find errands to run, and no less than three of them usually run them together. The kids all run around both inside and outside the house. The trampoline gets a lot of use, as do all the light sabers. The little girls often go off by themselves and play house or create musical programs or make bracelets. The grandparents tend to find somewhere to sit and observe it all. Every once in a while, a person or two finds a way to get by themselves just to catch their breath.
It's a wonderful time of year, even though it takes a lot out of all of us. We are all exhausted, and our bodies and my house all take a beating. But it's worth it. We have so much fun together, because we're not just family; we're friends, too.
So here's to next year, Bevells! Same time, same place. Rest up.