It started on December 26th. We moved many of our Christmas decorations, all our cookies, my special very hearty beef barley soup and ourselves into the house our family rented for a week because it was big enough to accommodate everybody.
For one week, I saw a beautiful grandchild's face every time I turned around. I got to see one of my children and his or her spouse any time I wanted. I made ice cream cones every night. We took 14 of our grandchildren shopping so they could pick out their own presents. We feasted on Beth's tea ring every morning. One night I heard my sons laugh together for hours like I hadn't heard them laugh in years - a deep, hilarious belly laugh that makes me smile to remember it, sharing a bond that's been part of their lives since they were born. You can see how hard they're laughing in this picture:
We all went to lunch together. I watched my grandchildren play together and interact with cousins they hadn't seen for a year and I appreciated what wonderful children they all are. Despite the fact that two of the kids couldn't make it, for one week I was overwhelmed with happiness and joy. And, I got to talk with the new mommy in our family everyday while she kept us updated on our eighteenth grandchild's progress.
We may not get together as often as many families but when we do, it's complete and intense and lasts for a solid week and it doesn't get any better than that.
Then, suddenly, all too soon, it was over.