So I am home again now. We actually had quite a good time with my dad's side of the family. Everyone stayed the night instead of leaving the minute the turkey was eaten and the presents were opened. We all played games and took turns holding my cousin's new baby, who is about the cutest little boy I've ever seen. He just grins constantly. I liked playing with him.
My aunt has been encouraging my cousin to have a baby since she was in junior high. My cousin is now 22 and really is not financially stable enough to have a child, but she is a good mother. I'm glad she waited to have a child until she was older. At least one of them has good sense.
I enjoyed visiting with my two cousins who I hadn't seen since my grandfather died six years ago. We all had a great time playing together as children, but we only saw each other about five times growing up. My aunt doesn't like my mother, so we never got to see my cousins. I'm not sure why my aunt doesn't like my mother, but the best I can come up with is classism. My mother is from a very poor family. My dad's family is upper middle class. My mother has been a lot nicer to my dad's family than perhaps I could ever be. They've never been nice to her.
My maternal grandmother also married into a family that never treated her well. I don't understand that one either. My grandmother is the nicest, most unassuming person I have ever met. She has a great sense of humor and a beautiful smile. She is also incredibly independent. She is 86 and still lives alone. She was ill a few years ago and had to live with my aunt for a few months. She was thrilled when she finally got to go home.
I like to think that I take after my mother's side of the family more than my dad's. When we go to my maternal grandmother's house for Christmas, there are always a ton of people and lots of simple foods (like relish trays and cheese and meat trays). Everyone talks at once, and the laughter is loud. We genuinely enjoy being together, and the party goes late into the night. Often people bring friends and neighbors to the party, and they always fit right in. We have all taken to bringing extra gifts to the party so that everyone will have a gift to open during the gift exchange. Last year, my sister brought her boyfriend, and he got more gifts than anyone besides my grandmother. This is how a family should look, in my opinion: lots of laughter, food, love, and welcome for those who happen to wander in. I am blessed to have that in my life.