I come from a tribe.

A boisterious, opinionated, over-the-top, joke-telling, loud, over-sharing kind of tribe.

I have two brothers and two sisters and four children and eleven nieces and nephews.

And that’s just on my side of the family.

We get together every Christmas and in the summer on Cape Cod and a few random holidays and events in between.  And when we are all together, there are family jokes and kids spilling out every where and giant waffle bars and Oreos in the couch and basketball games in the winter and tea parties and laughter.

Lots and lots of laughter.


This past Christmas, I asked my kids if this year they wanted to change it up a bit.

I told them a family Christmas can be a little overwhelming sometimes.

I asked if they wanted to stay at our house and have a leisurely holiday without all the stress and sleeping on the floor and having stickers all over their arms and eating at a table full of Cheerios and benches.

They looked at me as if I had lost my mind.

Seriously, they said?

They informed me that was the best part of the holidays and what was I thinking and they were packing their bags right now and could they make monogrammed clipboards for everyone so they could participate in the handmade gift exchange.


They were right.

I’m so glad we made the trip.

December 25 we found ourselves eating waffles and wearing stickers and watching football and sharing stories about our lives and exchanging handmade presents and laughing.

Always laughing.

And days later when it was time to leave and drive back to Kentucky, we packed up the car with heavy hearts.


They all lined up at the door to see us off, that wonderful tribe of mine.

An entire family of stair steps standing in stocking feet, spilling out of the entry way one over the other, shouting and laughing and waving frantically to tell us goodbye.

We plastered our faces against the car windows and waved back as we pulled out of the driveway.

And then we saw him.


One of the cousins was following us down the block on the sidewalk, running like the wind with his blonde curls swirling around his head.

He ran and waved and ran and waved and ran after us until he couldn’t run any more.  And then he stopped, exhausted and then he bent over out of breath. Slowly he raised his head and then simply stood and waved at our car in the distance.  We waved back and grinned and smiled at our curly headed runner until we drove out of sight.

He never stopped waving.

Not once.

He had given his goodbye all he had.


He was so right.

And the poignant lesson he taught me at that moment will be imprinted on my heart forever.

Family is….well….family.

We need to hold our family close and forget the imperfections and treasure the laughter.

And run like the wind after each goodbye. 🙂

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  1. Image for Sherry Sherry

    Just celebrated my mother's 90th bd and your blog made me tear up in a good way. Am already planning a summer get together with my nine sibs and kids etc

  2. Image for Carol Carol

    I just Love your stories! And your family, all of them! Tears are a good way to start the day! Thanks for sharing your life with us!

  3. Image for carrie carrie

    Perfect post after waking up without the winning Powerball numbers and feeling, for one second, that I wasn't good enough to have my prayers answered....and then I remembered, I woke up. That makes me a winner. I have family and friends who love me, and who I love. That makes me a winner, too. And, I have a very smart woman writing a very beautiful blog who has a talent for reminding me of the importance of perspective. So thank YOU, Kari Anne!

  4. Image for Patty Patty

    Kids, TONS of kids + loud laughter + magnificent messes + pooped parents = FAMILY! Oh the joy of making lifelong memories!

  5. Image for Peg Peg

    Oh, what wonderful memories you are making!! Treasure that tribe of yours!! As the song goes, "Don't blink." Life goes by altogether much to fast. : )

  6. Image for Cindy Cindy

    So very true...life is without family would simply be unbearable. My husband has a large family, and I'm an only child. When I was young, I remember wishing I had siblings. As I got older and became a handful, I remember thinking that my mother was probably eternally grateful that God broke the mold after making me! LOL! It's funny though...now I find myself wishing I had them again:) I find myself truly appreciating the family that I do have, and even reaching out to those that I was never raised around due to distance. Family is, truly precious! May we all find it in our hearts to "run like the wind"...even towards the crazy people in our families:D

  7. Image for Cecilia Cecilia

    Sob. That so touches my heart. You are so right and you are blessed beyond measure. I wish my whole tribe was happier...I'm just glad our little family of four and a few in the larger tribe are. Here's to special family memories! (Love the heart rocks!) Hugs my friend. Cecilia

  8. Image for Sharon H Sharon H

    Miz karianne, thank you for helping to get my day started off in a such a sweet spirit! Great day to you, little one.

  9. Image for Barbara Barbara

    Love this story! When we would have to leave my Grandmother's house, she would stand on her porch and say "I'll live on these memories for a long time." We looked forward to the next time so we could make some new memories:)

  10. Image for Susan Eisert Susan Eisert

    This might be my favorite post of yours !! It describes my family and evokes emotions of all our Christmases together. Thanks for sharing !

  11. Image for Yvonne Shafer Yvonne Shafer

    Another poignant message to remember and be thankful! I'm the oldest of 7 and treasure every time we can all get together with the sibs, their kids, and grands. It's not as often as I'd like so I better organize a reunion this year!

  12. Image for kathy kathy

    Awesome message! My family has seventeen members. Our Christmas and vacation gatherings are all of the things you mentioned. I am so blessed to still have my wonderful parents who celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary yesterday. I am glad your children know how special this time is. The memories will someday be so precious.

  13. Image for susan b susan b

    There were 20 of us (plus some extra bf's and gf's for the older ones) and it was crazy :) I'm so blessed to have my brothers, sisters and parents able to get together over the holidays! We ate too much - we laughed so much and we wished we could do it more often! Now its time to plan the summer beach getaway! Bring on the confusion and chaos - I love every minute of it!!! I'd trade that I we all lived next door to each other (although I'm certain my husband would disagree to the "next door")!!

  14. Image for Robin Robin

    This is exactly how I say goodbye to my grandchildren. I run to the edge of my yard and yell I love you, be careful, and I throw in a high kick toe touch! The grands and I love it. Hope I can continue this goodbye tradition for many years to come! What a blessing they are to us.

  15. Image for Pat Meacham Pat Meacham

    Yes we often need to stop and listen to our hearts as too soon some one is gone and we can't turn the clock back and wish we had not missed those important simple times. Thanks for the reminder.

  16. Image for Debbie Debbie

    I have a huge lump in my throat. Your story is so precious and the line about holding our family close and treasuring the laughter...not truer words were ever spoken. You treasure those wonderful, loving times even after they are all gone back to heaven and long for the time when you will be with them again. Thanks for your wisdom.

  17. Image for Leslie Leslie

    Love. Every. Bit. Thank you for sharing your family. That family who helped shape who you are. And continues to teach and touch all of us. ❤️

  18. Image for Stephanie Ray Brown Stephanie Ray Brown

    In tears!!! You nailed it best writing of memory ever! Great memory keeper for your family! Reminds me of how my kids would stand and run on hill as long as they could see their grandmother's car. Miss my pony tailed preschooler and cotton top toddler... Grateful for your reminding me of this memory. Still in tears.. Drinking a diet dr pepper as a toast to celebrate this perfect post to melt Your heart.❤️

  19. Image for Linda Linda

    Ahhhh...you made me cry... in a good way. I am blessed with such a great family too, and our goodbyes are always melancholy. Loved your photos today! Sun is shining here in Illinois. It's a good day!

  20. Image for Donna Marie Donna Marie

    There were 20 grandkids on the side of the only grandparents we had; and boy did we have fun. I miss those times. I was the oldest so they disappeared while I was young, but boy did we make memories!!!

  21. Image for Toni Toni

    Beautiful......memories of days chasing their grandparents car down the street as they drove away. Now they are gone. Thanks for the memories.

  22. Image for Cindy in Oklahoma Cindy in Oklahoma

    So true, Karianne..... These gatherings are too few and far between. It seems like every year we either lose someone... or are worried about someone whose health is failing or who are going through other difficulties.... It takes a little planning, but the memories from the few times we are all together are worth the effort, even if we don't always realize it at the time. Over the past couple of years I've had a niece and a great nephew make a point of telling me how much all those gatherings meant to them.... We all need to know we mean something to each other.....you will never regret telling people you love just how much you do.....and showing up for a Christmas party is often the best opportunity.

  23. Image for Kris Kris

    Just curious--why are there stickers on everyone's arms? We have 12 in my in-law's home for "Christmas" (the day after T-giving ... 3 bedrooms, 1 shower, 2 toilets, if you're curious about details!) and the 6 kids are feral but I don't recall any sticker incidents. They have a blast together and it's a joy to watch them. We lost my dad last summer so we concentrated on making new memories this past Christmas on my side of the family. It was a good time and I'm sure Dad was smiling from Heaven.

  24. Image for NormaJean NormaJean

    Oh! And I love the heart-shaped rocks. I collect them too and think of them as a valentine from God reminding me of how much I am loved. Just thought you should know.

  25. Image for Shirley@housepitalitydesigns Shirley@housepitalitydesigns

    This is so joyful, tearful . . . Our life's biggest blessing is family ... When our family and extended family gets together for Thanksgiving, there are over 50 people... it is the time when laughter is all you hear...Such great times where memories are made and treasured forever.

  26. Image for Ann C Ann C

    I started collecting heart shaped stones after my husband passed almost fourteen years ago. I told myself they were messages from him that he was still with me. I loved your post today. My two siblings and their kids and grand kids all live within fifteen minutes of each other. My only child and her family live six hours away. I see her more often than I see anyone . But we talk on the phone and complain about how busy we are. Since our parents have passed we have had family reunions in the summer so all of us can see each other. I love the idea of all staying together in one big mess! Thanks for sharing.

  27. Image for terri lee terri lee

    Thank you for sharing such beautiful words this morning. In a time when we're all so distracted by the many things that don't really matter..... it's good to be brought back to matters of the heart! You're such a blessing, thank you.

  28. Image for Kathleen Grace Kathleen Grace

    Our family has always celebrated every holiday in a big mash up of Aunts, Uncles, cousins and grandparents. Our girls treasure that tradition so much that our oldest daughter makes the trip from Pennsylvania to Michigan every year in order to spend Thanksgiving around the table with the whole messy family. It is a rare treasure to be able to give that to your children. I'm not surprised that they love it so much!

  29. Image for Kimm at Reinvented and RoadKill Rescue Kimm at Reinvented and RoadKill Rescue

    So so sweet. I still want to be your sister, now even more than yesterday. Please tell me there's room for a tall brunette. No one will even notice me... ;)

  30. Image for Tina Tina

    Karianne, could you please, please, PLEASE write a book?!? Your posts are always so wonderful - sometimes funny, sometimes thoughtful, sometimes straight to our hearts, maybe causing some tears - but always touching us somehow. You have such a great way with words and storytelling. I would definitely read your book!

  31. Image for Marisa Franca @ All Our Way Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    *sigh* I know!! Our family, warts and all, is our family and there will never be another. This is what life is all about -- and this is what memories are made of. Love the story, my friend. Glad you had a great time with the family. Big Hugs!!

  32. Image for Stacey M Stacey M

    Hello! I am a new reader of your blog and I love the heart that you bring to your writing. I teach young children part time and have two little ones of my own at home and I'm often overwhelmed with being needed so much. I try my best to be patient but feel like I am often falling short of the mark with my own kids. I love this reminder to slow down, look in the rearview mirror, and enjoy my curly- headed little ones while they are still willing to run after us. Thank you.

  33. Image for Rowena Philbeck Rowena Philbeck

    Love that. Not sure what happened but I'm not getting your emails like I did before. Have you stopped them and just having your blog? Happy New Year!!!

  34. Image for Wendy Lou Wendy Lou

    My heart is smiling! This is how I grew up... and endeavor to transfer to my kids...run like the wind after each good bye!

  35. Image for Dale D. Dale D.

    A delightful posting of your noisy, fun tribe. Good to be reminded of the richness of family and to appreciate the heartfelt moments such as your precious marathon runner and love the exchange of hand crafted gifts and how now your children wanting to participate too- tradiations being passed down to the next generation. By the way, love your collection of heart shape rocks...a sweet read KariAnne.

  36. Image for Robin Gallagher Robin Gallagher

    Shared this post with my parents and siblings. As a family spread far and wide who gathers yearly, sometimes with great effort, this is a reminder to keep making that effort!

  37. Image for Trina Trina

    That story melts my heart! And all while I was reading it I thought of one of my favorite books "the relatives came" by Cynthia rylant. If you haven't read it, I highly suggest it. Your kids would love it too, even if it is a picture book for littles. I heart books! I heart your stories! Xoxo, Trina

  38. Image for Sue Sue

    It's almost bedtime but I'm going to bed with a thankful heart. Family is everything and this story just made me so grateful for my family. When you love your kin and they love back,it's a blessing. Love you.

  39. Image for Jerry Stocks Jerry Stocks

    You always inspire. Our fifteen for Christmas dinner is always chaotic. I would love to set a pretty table, but it never works out that way. So I cook a great meal, and everyone just pulls up wherever there is room. We are together and that is what counts. Happy New Year to you and your beautiful family.

  40. Image for Pam Moore Pam Moore

    Love this!! I come from a large, loud, over-the-top tribe, too. I also don't live by them. The Christmases we lived too far away to go home were always kind of depressing for me. The holidays are meant to be shared with large, loud families. We always do Thanksgiving here with my husband's sweet, small family and then drive to spend Christmas with mine. For some reason last year we reversed and went 'home' for Thanksgiving and had my husband's family here for Christmas Eve. After everyone left on Christmas Eve we decided that we needed to make the drive and spend Christmas with the tribe. So, on the spur of the moment we threw some clothes in the carry-ons, gathered up all the left-overs, called the family and said, "We're coming and we're bringing more food." and we hopped in the car and left. Best. decision. ever. Ah, I'm with your kids - crazy Christmases with all the family are the best!

  41. Image for Gabi Gabi

    Your blog was so poignant and true. My own family is small just my mom and dad and my 3 cousins. Everyone else is still in Germany where we immigrated from many decades ago or deceased. I have adopted my husband's family as my own and our Thanksgiving at his mom's is exactly the same--fortunately, we are only 2 hrs away by car, so my husband and I get to sleep in our own beds, but our youngest camps out with all her cousins over the whole weekend. It involves a little extra driving but sure beats sleeping on the floor!! I also have been adopted by my best friend's family and they too have lots of members. When one is bereft of family like I am, get-togethers like these are all the more important!!

  42. Image for Sam Sam

    We are driving from Michigan to Nashville right now after a last minute trip for my fiance's grandma's funeral. We are getting married in 20 days, and the timing of this was really tough for our busy schedule, but your blog sums it up perfectly. We spent last night after the funeral with my father in law's extended family having a silly dance party, drinking wine, and sharing stories of our pasts. What an amazing weekend. It's so worth the effort.

  43. Image for Mindy Whipple Mindy Whipple

    Christmas with my family (at my parents house) is loud and crazy and fun and (even though it exhausts me by the end) I forget that not everyone is used to that. My poor aunt, widowed, who usually gathers with her own children found herself along this year and so (because it is how we do) an invitation to join us was accepted. About a third of the way through the day (thankfully after we had eaten so she didn't leave famished) she bid her farewell stating that she would be taking two Tylenol and be going to bed! Loud was not her style...

  44. Image for Susan Susan

    This has me tearing up so that I can barely see to comment, but felt compelled to do so anyway. You are a very blessed woman, KariAnne...not just because you have a completely amazing family whom you love and whom loves you to bits, but also because you can recognise your blessings and be grateful for them...this is a gift that not very many people have, unfortunately. I feel truly blessed that you share this part of your life with us and that I get to have a big, ol', ugly sob over it...it might sound funny, but it actually helps lighten my heart quite a bit. Thank you so very much for helping this heavy heart feel so much lighter!

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