Christmas eve was good; the five-sons of our loving, late, Tennessee born and raised parents (along with a number of our respective family members) met at the house where we all grew up. It is a small, three-bedroom, northern Illinois, Eisenhower era ranch home, no basement, with the most compact rooms imaginable; it sure does not take a great number of visitors to qualify as a crowd. The kitchen is so small that we carve the turkey on top of the washing machine in the adjacent utility room before moving it to the kitchen table (which is large enough to act as a serving table but too small for us to also sit at for dining). This house was Mom and Dad’s American Dream House; compared to what my parents knew as children, this house was luxury, something that they slaved to purchase and maintain. They did it for their children, and their children still appreciate, and honor, their love and courage.
During our formative years when guests would stay overnight, we kids eagerly gave up our bunk beds for the adventure of improvised sleeping arrangements, with one of us on blankets spanning the tops of the washer and dryer (me usually opting for a tent in the backyard). Others slept on the floor.
We share many good memories when we all get together and those are the best gifts of all.