I mentioned a few days ago that Christmas Eve has always been one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. For years, we've always gone to Nana and Mick's (my dad's parents) on Christmas Eve to celebrate with a portion of our extended family ... I don't think all the Nethertons could fit into one room.
We're all close in age, separated only by a few years, and we were best friends growing up. Nana and Mick's was always our meeting spot where we shared in Sunday lunches, afternoon games of hide-n-seek, endless games of Horse (Casey always won), Easter egg hunts, boogie board rides on the lake, and a slew of other games and good times together.
I have such warm, rich memories from my childhood Christmas' over at Nana and Mick's. Things continued to evolve and change over the years, and my little brother, Taylor, would eventually join the gang. But as we got older, it became more difficult for us all the be at Nana and Mick's for Christmas Eve, especially since my cousin Michael has been in the Army for the greater part of a decade and stationed in Washington when not serving in Iraq.
That's what made this Christmas so special -- Michael is home, which meant for the first year in many years all of the cousins were back together on Christmas Eve (Taylor snuck off before the pictures were taken).
The last time this happened, I was a junior in college. ... which was longer ago than I'm willing to admit.
We also got to introduce Michael to the spouses -- Ashley, Ty and Josh -- and introduce the spouses to Michael's wife, Lorena, and their kids Gabby and Mason.
I love how our family is growing, but our closeness never changes. I look forward to many more Christmas Eve's with the cousins!