Celebrating Christmas in a large family like the Guerzinis isn’t too different from any other family. We decorate the house, find that special tree, bake cookies, and wrap presents. Christmas Eve, we head to Newburgh United Methodist Church for a candlelight service, and Christmas Day, we tear into the hard work Santa and his elves (now that I’m older, I call them “Mom”) put into wrapping presents.
Again, Christmas in a large family isn’t all that different … just bigger.
Instead of baking a dozen cookies, try baking two or three dozen. Instead of one or two “first Christmas” ornaments on the tree, there’s multiple.
As the third oldest in a family of 11 kids, I compare it to having several younger cousins in a normal-sized immediate family. The only difference is you live with them.
Decorating our house in Newburgh for the Christmas season is a family event itself. Some of my fondest childhood memories of the holiday are lining up outside our attic every Black Friday as my dad passed down boxes to an assembly line of kids leading all the way to the living room. Unfortunately for us older kids, we had to pick up the slack from the younger ones who gave up after about 30 minutes.
My siblings and I are blessed to have parents — Heather and Michael — who have always made sure we had a wonderful Christmas. I know it is a stressful time for them, with months of shopping, decorating, and wrapping more than 100 gifts on top of the constant flow of running kids back and forth from school, clubs, and sports practices. They never complained, though, and we never noticed.
The first thing people ask me when I tell them I have 10 siblings is what it’s like growing up in such a large family. While there certainly are disadvantages (alone time is hard to come by), there are plenty of perks, too — there’s always something to do, from birthday parties to sporting events. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love all my brothers and sisters and have a unique bond with each one of them.
With several of us now moved out and living in different places, Christmas is an even more special holiday as it’s one of the only times during the year that we are all together. This year, I’m looking forward to spending the holiday season with my still growing family and reliving the stories of our Christmases past around a bountiful dinner. There’s always room at the table!
Photos provided by Heather Guerzini (Thanks Mom!).