November 20, 2011

Christmas in November

One of the things I sorely missed my three years in Mongolia were the big family gatherings for the holidays. On my mother's side, I only have 2 uncles and 2 aunts. But between them, there are 29 cousins, almost all of whom are married (I think only 2 of us are still single) and all have kids, even a few have grandchildren. That makes for a big family gathering.

This year, partly because of my leaving soon, again, and the fact that many of the family will be at other places, my aunt, Juanita, decided to have the Christmas gathering in November, before Thanksgiving. I drove my mom and my brother Bill and met my other brothers, Mike and Chris there. My niece, May, along with her husband, Bobby, and their son, Jack, and little 'Peanut' were there too. Even my niece, Lauren, from university showed up. Of my other aunts, uncles and cousins, there were too many to keep track of. [smile]

My uncle Willie, my mom, and my brother, with his daughter.
And way too much food.
Even though it was supposed to be only finger food, there was enough to feed an army. Twice! After having counted my calories for these last three months, it was very hard to show some restraint on foods I didn't allow myself. We'll see what the damage was to my waistline tomorrow morning. Not really wanting to see that I don't think.

Many I hadn't see since my last time back in Kansas City two years before. Seemed word had gotten out that I was leaving soon, but everyone still asked questions. "Why?" "What's it like there?" and "When are you coming back?" To that last one, I couldn't really say. I will probably work till September to finish the school year, but after that, I'm just not sure.

I could have stayed all day, but probably would have eaten way, way too much more. I've said goodbye to my extended family so many times, it seems just like something I do - always say "goodbye." I guess that's my karma.

My mom, Shirlene, with my brother, Mike, and his daughter, Lauren.
But not to be outdone, my brother, Mike, will have Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday with all the extended family from my dad's side of the family. And, while not as large, my dad's side of the family seems to make up for it by intensity. Again, my waistline will be tested, with too much good food and desserts. But it will all be worth it to spend just a little more time with my family.