Coming from someone who is one of ten grandchildren on my father’s side, with several cousins on my mother’s side, it’s no secret that big family holiday dinners, lunches, and social get-togethers are nothing short of chaos. However, it is my favorite kind of chaos in the world. Those that have a big family can not only relate to this chaos but also remember that seating at the holiday dinner is essential, big family photos are hectic and bring many to the verge of tears to those both old and young, yet most importantly, big families bring on lifelong friends, priceless memories, and the little things that mean the most.
Chaos. Big family gatherings bring a ton of chaos. Whether it’s yelling at someone from across the room because you know they are doing something else, but you wanted to tell them hello or the bits and pieces of conversation you catch no matter where you go. The chaos is present. The chaos is overwhelming. The chaos is my favorite kind of crazy.
Seating. The position of the big holiday family tables is critical. At what age will you be seated at the “grown up” table? At what age are you still considered a member of the “kids” table? These stages in life are determined by where you are seated at the holiday dinner. Of course, we all know that the parents, aunts, and uncles, and most importantly grandparents are seated at the “adult’s” table, and if you’re in my family, anyone under the age of 26 is seated at the “cousin’s” table. Which is just another polite way to say “You’re still the child so sit here.” With each year that passed, I dreamed of being seated at the grown up table. However, the older I’ve gotten, the more I appreciate the laughter and bond that is shared with each of my cousins. There is always a favorite picture of someone’s awkward stage and there is always a Christmas gift or Thanksgiving memory that each remembers down to every small detail. In that case, I’m honored to sit at the head of the “cousin’s” table.
Family photos. Those with big families remember the moms and aunts gathering everyone up for the longest, most tedious, most chaotic process of all: family photos. Finding out where to take the picture is half the battle, and normally this process includes weird sounds being made to get the children under four to look in the direction of the camera, and Heaven help the soul that tries to get the family pets to look in the camera for even a second. This is only for the first picture. After this, immediate families normally take their own pictures. This is also filled with complaints, noises depending on the ages of the family, and plenty of rearranging depending on the dynamic of the family. If there were an award for the most stressful twenty minutes of your life, family photos would be in the “Stress Hall of Fame."
Aside from these stressful small events that make up family holiday dinners, there is an overwhelming amount of conversation, an immense amount of laughter, and believe it or not, a gratitude for the family pictures that were taken on those holiday afternoons. Big families come with any get together being thought of as a big event, but above all, big family celebrations and meals remind me of just how fortunate I am to have four grandparents, eleven cousins that are some of my best friends, three aunts, three uncles, two incredibly loving parents, and a brand new second cousin. Bring on next year’s chaos, seating arrangements, and hectic family photos. I wouldn’t have it any other way.