Today's tradition: Christmas at Grandma's.
My older siblings (and older cousins... and Aunt Rachel) are going to have to let me know how accurate my memory is here. I really feel at least twice in my early years we had a big family Christmas at Grandma's. I don't remember the exact date (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day (but in the evening), or some evening before), but I remember going there. I remember getting a Wizzzer one year while there. Anybody remember the Wizzzer?
I have many memories from Grandma's. I still remember her phone number. It was one of the first phone numbers I ever memorized. I have about one memory of Grandpa, as he passed away when I was very little... but I remember him well, and Mom used to tell stories of me eating hard candy by sucking all the sugar off, and then giving them to Grandpa to finish, and how funny he thought it was. I just remember people helping him move around once. That's the only Grandpa memory I have... beyond Mom laughing and telling me that story about the candy.
Aunt Deana Mae had a daughter, Linda. Aunt Lois had a daughter and two sons, Toni, Mike, and David. Aunt Rachel had two sons and two daughters, Alan, Roy (Bryce now), Cheryl, and Karen. And then there were the (up to) eight of us. I have to add the "up to" because I'm not sure that we had Christmas at Grandma's in Ruth or Sara's lifetimes.
Aunt Rachel's family lived (and live) in Omaha (and/or the surrounding area), so seeing them was always a big deal. Karen was just a couple of months younger than me, and they were all just as crazy funny as the rest of us... so it was usually a pretty good time to be around them. I was so young for these events, however, most of what I remember are just the feeling of how great it was to have everyone there--and maybe everyone wasn't there the times I'm remembering, but it sure seemed like it.
I don't know that all of the cousins have been in the same place since then--except maybe at Grandma's funeral in 1982. Even then, I don't know if everyone made it or not. And, obviously, it wasn't exactly a joy-fest.
I keep thinking it would be great to get everyone together some Christmas, but then I realize everyone has their own families now, and I can just imagine how much fun it would be as a kid to have to go hang out with kids you're vaguely related to (second cousins, first cousins once removed, and so on) while the older folks sat around and laughed themselves sick. Or maybe they wouldn't hate it... but one of us better get a mansion first! There are a lot of kids of cousins (and some grandkids of cousins)!
Anyway, I've gotten off track a bit, talking about family... but that's one of the first traditions I remember missing once it stopped. I don't know why it stopped... or even if it was two years in a row that I'm remembering. I just remember being sad about not getting to see my cousins from Omaha, and not getting to have a big Christmas to-do, and thinking it didn't seem right without it... but then getting over it once my presents were ready to be opened.