I've been struggling to write this post, because no matter what words I use, I can't seem to describe how special this family tradition is to me.
Every four years, my ENTIRE family (aunts, uncles, great aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins, second cousins, etc.) spends Christmas in Gatlinburg, TN. It's a tradition that my family has had ever since my mom was young, and it's brought about some of my favorite holiday memories.
This year happened to be a Gatlinburg Christmas, and it's safe to say that it was my favorite one yet. Maybe because I'm older and can appreciate all the hard work and love that goes into coordinating all of it?
My grandma "Mrs. Clause" is the leader of the pack. She makes sure everyone knows the schedule for the week, and assigns everyone jobs (no, I'm not even joking). My job this year was T-Shirt's (because no family reunion is complete without matching shirts), and Christmas Eve dinner (with the rest of my fam).
We play the role of "secret angel" for the week to another family member and make them feel extra special. We have a talent show, frosty frenzy gift exchange (where the competitive nature in all of us comes out), trips to DollyWood and The Pancake Pantry, delicious homemade meals, and spend plenty of time just catching up with those relatives we don't get to see so often.
Honestly, I think our crazy traditions could be a Holiday special on TLC, because we go all out. First of all, we rent a cabin and all stay under one roof, this year there were 32 of us! That many people paired with the occasional cabin fever can lead to some interesting events, like my aunt leg wrestling, my great uncle shooting back Jack Daniels, or my uncle and cousin dressing up as cheerleaders. Planning meals for that many people is a whole other story, but we managed to survive.
I had so much fun this year, and cried my eyes out when I had to leave everyone. I'm already counting down the days until Gatlinburg 2016, and look forward to all the memories we'll create.