My favorite childhood memories of Christmas have nothing to do with presents and Santa, and everything to do with the parties. I grew up on the same street with three sets of cousins and one set of grandparents (all on my Italian father’s side of the family). My mother’s family all lived within five miles (and she had 100 cousins, so I’m talking about a lot of people). FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender

Beginning mid-day Christmas Eve day and continuing through Christmas night, the holiday was one endless party trail as we traveled to several houses, played with cousins, ate too many cookies, and sat down to a few good meals. All the grown-ups were too busy drinking and visiting to pay much attention to us kids, so we enjoyed unbridled freedom, which is probably why the memories are so good!

Really bad selfie!

Really bad selfie!

Now I live in Connecticut, away from most of my family. However, ironically, one of those cousins from the old ‘hood lives in my town, as does my best friend from high school, so I can recreate a little bit a of that family feeling for my kids. For a few years, I’ve hosted a small get-together on December 23rd. This year, we decided to open it up a bit and invite about ten families. I had so much fun (as did the kids), next year I’m determined to make it even bigger. The only downside is, as a grown-up, I’m stuck with the clean-up, too. But it is well worth it.

Mom and my Hubby

Mom and my Hubby

Hope you enjoy the few photos (that’s my mom dressed like a Nutcracker) of our little event. Do you have or attend holiday parties, or do you prefer to keep things quiet?

MERRY CHRISTMAS, and best wishes for a happy, healthy new year.

PSĀ  My newsletter will be going out in early January, so if you want a sneak peek at Worth the Trouble, a chance to win an early review copy, and to vote on the charity I’ll be donating some of the sales proceeds to, please make sure you are signed up. It’s a two-step process, so make sure to respond to the verification email!

XO-Jamie