I’m from a family of eight. Here they all are from last Christmas, the first time we’ve all been together since my father died about six years ago. Oh, we’ve all been together many, many times…just not all at the SAME time. That’s just really hard to arrange. This picture is lacking the brand new fiance of my nephew and the soon-to-be-born first great-grandchild.
In order, oldest to youngest my brothers and sisters–no, I won’t try and get to you identify them but the families are mostly sort of left to right from oldest to youngest…except when they’re not:
We grew up in an old farmhouse that, before it was restored to it’s glorious two-bedroom majesty, was used to store grain on my grandparents’ south forty. And when the sixth child was born we added on and turned the two bedroom house into a (brace yourself to be in awe) THREE bedroom house.
We just didn’t have nuthin’. And Christmas was an absolute joy.
My father was a farmer and we milked cows. Which amounts to everyday and early mornings. I remember we’d wake up on Christmas morning…heaven only knows how early…maybe one a.m. or three a.m. Just insane. The very first second one kid was up we were all up. I can even remember rehearsing with my brothers and sisters, because one of the bedrooms was past mom and dad’s and we had to walk through their room without waking them up. (Yeah, right we didn’t wake them up!) So we’d check every floor board for creaks and some of us would lay in mom and dad’s bed and LISTEN while others would tiptoe through. And if we heard them we’d ‘wake up’ and they’d be busted.
I remember we’d just DIVE onto that tree. Just rip into everything. Complete chaos. None of this, One Present at a Time. Everybody Watches junk for the Moore family.
And we’d be in the middle of the madness and here would come mom and dad to watch the fun. Then, once every toy had been opened and celebrated…we’d go back to bed. About the time my dad would normally get up. I don’t know how old I was when I realized we’d kept the man up almost all night. Poor guy.
He never complained. And neither did mom.
They seemed to love the wildness of it.
Anyway, I’m really, really proud of my family. Yes, we came out of that poverty…not so big a deal really, nobody had much back then, especially not in rural Nebraska. I remember my mom saying one year, “We try to spend three dollars on each child.” Think about that. 8 x 3 = $24 for Christmas. God forgive me, I spend that much on a pedicure now.
I look back and realize we were perilously close to penniless but my parents never laid that on us as a burden. I had a neighbor who says her mother used to serve them meals and say, “Eat it all, I don’t know where the next meal is coming from.” She grew up with this sense of terror and … oh, UNsafeness you might say…about money.
Not me. If my parents worried, I never heard about it. And there we all were…eight kids born in eleven years…and I never saw my mother flinch when she told us there was a baby on the way. She loved having babies. She used to hug me and say, “The man who ends up married to you is going to be so lucky.” Just sweet stuff like that. Of course she took after me with a fly swatter on occasion, too. FOR NO REASON! (Well, maybe a reason.)
I never saw my father growl because ‘we can’t afford another kid.’ There just wasn’t any of that from my parents. They always treated us like they were so lucky to have had all these wonderful children, and we had to be such a rabble. 🙂 I dedicated my soon-to-be-released novel Gingham Mountain to my family, especially my mom. It’s about a man with a tiny house and not much money who adopts a hoard of children because he can’t stand to see a child in need. He’s my favorite hero ever.
In that crowd of 49 people – and counting – as grandchildren get married and great-grandbabies can be expected to come along – out of that two bedroom farm house with three dollar Christmas presents we’ve got:
3 1/2 doctors; 9 1/2 masters degrees; 11 bachelors degrees (I’m not counting anyone twice); 5 kids in college; 3 with school beyond high school; 1 published novelist (me!); 1 serving in the Army in Iraq ……………
and a partridge in a pear tree.
God bless you all this holiday season, from Mary Connealy and all of us at Petticoats & Pistols