The Saturday before Thanksgiving Day my side of the family gathers at our house to celebrate the holiday. We’ve been doing this for about thirteen years, so you could say it’s been a tradition for a while now.
As newlyweds often do, they find themselves in a predicament around the holidays. Most of them end up splitting the holiday celebrations between in-laws. “This year we’re going to his parents’ for Thanksgiving… My parents get Christmas…” This was SO hard on me. I hated missing out spending time with all of my family.
Holidays were such a HUGE event for me when I was growing up. You wouldn’t know by looking at me but I come from (and was raised in) a Hispanic family. My mom has five siblings, two brothers and three other sisters. In all I have 21 cousins. We now have our own families so the number skyrockets from there.
We used to gather at Aunt Dolores’ house, and it wasn’t a big house, for the holidays. I remember wall to wall family members and tons of cousins running in and out of the house. I remember the joy of all the noise and the crowd and all the fun and food we had. Thinking about it now it’s like a spring has uncoiled itself in my chest and I have a smile I cannot erase from my face.
Now, not every holiday has been that way since we’ve grown, but I was missing this gathering when I got married. I didn’t want to compromise. I didn’t have to, did I?
I wanted the best of both worlds so we invited all of my family to join us on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and a tradition was born. I think I sold it on the idea that we, the Longoria family, could have our Thanksgiving and then on the actual day everyone could go to their in-laws and such. No one had to choose or leave early. It was a hit!
Over the years this celebration has grown, and I mean GROWN! Now cousins and their families come from out of town to join us, and friends have been included as well.
This year it was rumored we would have 60 to 65 people coming. Keep in mind I have a modest 1400 sq ft house and the weather was forecasted to be cold, wet and windy. Forget about trying to accommodate people outside this year. This party just moved indoors.
We scrambled to rearrange tables, and we made three dining areas which included one in the garage, next to the foosball table. It was perfect for the kids.
Todd and my cousin, Paco, roasted a total of four turkeys, and my sister and best friend brought three hams. We asked everyone else to bring sides, desserts and drinks. Some of the classics we couldn’t do without were my mom’s buttermilk pie, Aunt Dolores’ dressing, and Maritza’s Oreo cheesecake–and this Chex-Mix crack stuff she makes.
Sadly, this year we had to do without my mother in law’s pea salad since she couldn’t make it. All in all, we wanted for nothing and everyone said that they had their fill.
At the end of the night we counted 56 people in attendance. The house was busting at the seams. People filled every room of our small house, even spilling out onto the front porch. The living room was filled with sports fans and the garage and tree house were filled with kids. It was great!
Did I mention that my youngest got sick the night before? He was quite upset about missing all the fun. We had to quarantine him but he was never alone. Thanks to Hayden (and Minecraft) and everyone who poked their heads in to check on little boy, Carsen felt the love.
I wanted So much to give my boys a taste of what my childhood was like and I think we all nailed it. It is a gift that will last everyone their lifetime.
Look at this! Everybody in this house is loved. Family – Grandmother’s. Great Aunt’s and Great Uncles, Tia’s and Tio’s, cousins and second cousins and friends. This is what binds us together.
To those who could not make it, your absence was felt. You were certainly missed.
To share all of this love with my friends who came was such an honor for us.
This is my family. We’re loud and we love each other despite our imperfections. We cherish our time together, recalling past memories, past loved ones and making new memories for the future.
I hope your tables are filled with love and thankfulness and so much more today.
(Click on photo to enlarge)