We were invited over to Tracie’s grandparent’s house. The Nickel’s…Ted and Frantella. Sweet people married for 65 years. Small house filled with 25 people. All blood relatives except for Jer and I and Aaron’s mom and dad. Aaron is married to Crystal, Tracie’s sister. I can’ t imagine cooking for that many people, but the preparation started days before. Family members all brought a dish and I brought brownies…candy cane peppermint brownies. To die for, I might add.
We were graciously introduced to family we had yet to meet. Kendall and Jennifer, from Dallas, and their son and his wife. Kendall is TJ’s brother. We were introduced to some cousins scattered throughout the room and Grandma made sure she welcomed us with open arms. We sat and visited while we waited for the dinner bell to ring. Grandma, Franchetta, wanted to say a prayer…a blessing. She wrote it down, so she wouldn’t forget any of it. She blessed us all for coming and asked for a blessing on Jennifer, as she had lost her beloved mother this year, whom they all loved. She mentioned the newest member of the family, Sydney, born to Crystal and Aaron. She shared “Mike” and Tracie’s upcoming wedding next year and Gerald and Susans. She then blessed the food.
She rushed us into the kitchen to form a cafeteria line , which started at the desserts first. Just a tease to show us what was to come. The spread was laid out in aluminum pans, except for the chicken dumpling, a family tradition, which was in a big stock pot. Chinet, plates and bowls and plastic cups filled with ice were lined up and ready. After we filled our plates and poured our drink, champagne included, we decided to go out to the garage where a very long table was set up, enough to sit 20. There was also a table in the house to seat 6 and then couches, chairs and the floor. We had been told to sit wherever we wanted to. Paper napkins and plastic utensils were placed at each chair. Dinner rolls , along with a tub of margarine, were placed at each end of the table. We sat and enjoyed our meal while laughing and visiting with our new family members. After our plates were empty, we went back for dessert. Pies of every flavor; pumpkin, apple, cherry, coconut cream, an apple strudel (another family tradition) and of course my brownies. We stuffed ourselves until we couldn’t breathe.
We then gathered into the living room where gifts were presented to grandma and grandpa. It was so sweet to watch them open them. I was reminded of a child getting their first glimpse of packages under the tree Christmas morning. Pure delight with each opened package. When they were done, Grandpa got up and gathered two gift sacks and gave one to me and one to Aaron’s parents. I was surprised, to say the least. It was a box of chocolates. The sweetest chocolates I would ever put into my mouth. Then grandpa gave out personalized cards , to each family member. When the last one was delivered, the sound of paper tearing was heard all about the room. Each card contained a monetary gift. Each person yelled out a heartfelt thank you to grandma and grandpa.
It was now time for Dirty Santa. I’d never played Dirty Santa with that many people, so I knew it was going to be fun. And it was. It took awhile for the “pirating” to start, but when it did, it was good. I stole itune gift cards from Aaron and Jer stole a small shop vac from Savanna, a cousin of Tracies.
We stayed and visited for quite some time after that and then people started to shuffle out. We hugged and said our goodbyes. Grandma and Grandpa both told me how honored THEY were to have us join them on this day. They truly Love Scooter and I truly LOVE them!
The thing I will take home from this day is this…the lack of pretense and airs. That house was filled with pure love. The purest form like when a baby enters its parents arms for the first time. It didn’t matter what form of china we ate of f of or the rusty old folding chairs we sat on. What matter were the people. The love AND respect shown by each and every person in that house. I was so overwhelming touched by all of that. It’s so easy to get hung up on the petty things. The fine china, the crystal minus the water spots, the ironed table cloth, your finest clothes. We had what matters most. Love and appreciation for one another. That’s what I felt. Every grandchild in that tiny little house had great respect for not only their grandparents ,but for their cousins, aunts , uncles and siblings.
It was a Christmas I’ll never forget. If it hadn’t been for them including us, we would have been home alone, which we were ok with, but this was so much better. I am thrilled that Scooter is marrying into such a lovely family with strong values and traditions. I am honored to be welcomed into the family, too.
Another thing learned. There’s a lot of wisdom that comes with 65 years of marriage, like using disposable dishes when feeding 25 people!