Each year, on the Saturday before Christmas, the Stremmel extended family meets in Canton to celebrate Christmas. Through the years, our get-together has gone through many changes, but for several years now, we have gathered to start some new traditions. And, many have stuck, and we like to have a lot of fun carrying them out.
One of my favorite parts. The littlest cousins love to gather around Great Uncle Dennis at the piano to sing songs. Of course, the biggest little cousin, Bart, can't help but join in too.
We then break for the men's grab bag gift or white elephant exchange. Many other families participate in something like this, and the game includes a lot of teasing, stealing presents, persuading others to please take my present, and trying to figure out what exactly that is in my box. Dad is more interested in David's present than his gloves, and Uncle Dick (in yellow) doesn't know quite what to think about his GIANT TV remote. By the conclusion of the game, Dad ended up with a fork and spoon that each stretch out about two feet - just in case he's in a situation where he'll need a little extra reach.
Lauren shows off her pink bag that she won in the women's gift exchange, and Brianna is sittin' pretty.
Little Gavin's shirt sure tells the story, and Miss Kayla and Miss Taryn wait to join in on the carols.
Of course, we started our big carol sing by first carrying out our traditional Twelve Days of Christmas with each family member (or group of family members) singing for each day and gift. Uncle Dick (again, in yellow) sings a very dramatic "Five Golden Rings", so we try to make sure that he always receives that part. We acted out the gifts also... with a lot of drummers drumming, ladies dancing, and, yes, maids milking. I was representing Six Geese A' Laying, so I am sure you can imagine!
I've received many questions wondering how we've been able to have so many participate in the fun at our family Christmas party. The truth is, in years past, many of my cousins have been big ol' sticks in the mud. That's right. I said it. Sticks in the mud! They might has well have said 'Bah humbug' throughout some of the past parties. It has been wonderful watching their children become older, see these funny things we've been trying to do year after year, and look forward to participating. So, my cousins have then wanted to join in with their children.
I always enjoy going home to sample some of the family's best cooking. There are some dishes that I am able to eat only once a year. So it is important to go through the line early, because some of pots become empty quickly. Unfortunately, I spoke with cousin Bart too long, but I was so happy to be able to scrape out the last helping of Aunt Norma's beef and noodles when I finally went through the line. My mouth waters just thinking about it.
In the past few years, it seems we have become more busy and more disconnected. So, I asked if each cousin, aunt and uncle would be willing to stand up, re-introduce their family and provide some highlights of the year. Yes, there were a lot of grumbles and moans. But, that was my favorite part of the day. (The sharing. Not the grumbling and moaning.) While some of the family sees each other several times a week, some of us live farther away and really miss knowing what is going on in the lives of our loved ones. It was a wonderful day with the extended family and a great start to the Christmas week.