Thanksgiving is my favorite time of the year.  I love that the season is not about getting gifts but about GIVING THANKS.  I love that the leaves have changed and that the temps are dropping. But what I love the most is that we have a house FULL of noise, laughter, food and family!

You see, I have three older brothers and between the four of us, we have 23 children. So every Thanksgiving, all 33 of us convene at our house….  10 adults and 23 children FOR THE WEEK. And it is SO MUCH FUN!

Most Thanksgivings, anyway.

“The Great Thanksgiving of 2013” was a little different.

It started out like any other family holiday. We spent the day hiking and we spent the evening prepping for the “big meal” for our large cluster. (Even though, I have to say that with 33 people in your house, EVERY meal is BIG. By the time we finish cleaning up from one meal, it is time to start preparing for the next!)

Once we finished the necessary prep Wednesday night, I was finally able to crawl into bed, just after midnight. And no sooner had I dozed off, when my daughter came running up the stairs screaming for me to come down. And I mean screaming! I was COMPLETELY disoriented as I stumbled downstairs. I had no idea what was happening… until I rounded the corner.  AND IT HIT ME.


Trying to make sense of it, I looked down the hallway and I saw my dad’s wife holding her nose with one hand and her nightgown up with the other.  My niece came flying around the corner to see what the commotion was about… and all I saw was her feet up in the air as she went sliding down the hall on human waste!  She looked like a giraffe learning to walk!  (Yes. It was equally as funny as it was disgusting.)

Y’all.  Did I mention we are on septic?

All I know was that sometime after we went to bed, the septic tank backed up and filled up the bathtub on the main floor.  It overflowed the tub and the toilet and ran out of the bathroom, into the bedroom where my dad and his wife were staying. It continued down the hall, and through the floor vents, seeping through the basement ceiling, dripping on my brother’s family as they slept. ☺ Needless to say, we spent most of the night cleaning up the aftermath.

Let me set the stage. I am running on about two hours of sleep.  I have 33 people in my house that cannot shower.  Cannot go to the bathroom.  Cannot wash any towels or clothes or anything else we used in the cleanup process. And I have a house full of people expecting Thanksgiving dinner in about, um… six hours.

For a substantial holiday fee, we were able to have the septic tank pumped and the water turned back on. Just in time for us to see the leak that had sprung in our laundry room! I mean y’all, it was straight out of a movie. The water not only flooded the laundry room, but ran out into the wood floor entryway and down through the basement ceiling, dripping onto the furniture and carpet below.

And (just because if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all), while mopping up the water, I slipped on the tile floor in the laundry room and shattered my brand new iPhone. Yep, I sure did.

SOMEHOW, with a team effort… we managed to prepare and eat our Thanksgiving dinner. (Although, a little later than scheduled.) I don’t think I have ever been so grateful to have gotten through a meal in my life! For those of you wondering, the benefit of having lots of mouths to feed is that we have lots of hands to help!

But… before I get sentimental about the joys of having a large family, let me get back to the story. Before we even finished the dinner cleanup process, the stomach bug managed to hit the masses!  And before we knew it, 13 of the 33 people in our house, were down for the count.☺

And it only gets better…

Our four-year-old daughter threw up in her bed and came running out to tell us that she was sick! Her room is on the second floor and the older kids were watching TV in the two story family room below.

No sooner had she gotten the words out of her mouth, she got sick again! This time through the upstairs spindles, down to the innocent victims below. Our oldest son, Maxton, was lying on the couch, minding his own business. And when Finley got sick, it was with such precision that he didn’t have a dry spot on his shirt or his head!

I am not even kidding.

The Thanksgiving memories didn’t end there. Over the course of the following week:

six of my immediate family members got the stomach bug.
I spent more than 15 hours in a germ-infested doctor’s office.
Our youngest was diagnosed with full-blown pneumonia.  (Yes, she also had the stomach bug.)
Two of the children came down with the flu.
While trying to stay on top of our Christmas shopping for teacher’s gifts, I lost my keys.
And as I was volunteering at our elementary school, I realized that the wheelchair that the nurse, the principal AND the assistant principal were frantically running to the playground, was for MY daughter. I mean, y’all, there were 1382 students at the school.  And it had to be MY kid. (I know the odds are pretty good, but still!) So… David and I got to spend some good quality time at Children’s while they treated her for a serious concussion.

Needing a break from, well, everything, I decided to go to the Apple store down at the mall for some much needed time alone.  And, to fix my aforementioned broken phone.  As I was sitting there sharing with the Apple tech my sob story about my week, a young girl walked by, bumped into me and passed out on top of me!  So I spent the next four hours in an ambulance with my new teenage friend, waiting for her mom to arrive.

Again, I am not even kidding.

I couldn’t make this up if I tried.  Although, we didn’t realize we were creating memories in the moment, it’s one of our favorite stories to tell.  And the further we get from “The Great Thanksgiving of 2013”, the easier it is to look back and laugh. As we are sitting around the breakfast table talking, learning from one another and reminiscing, I am grateful for this reminder of building memories in the moment. This morning, I find myself with a choice to make. You see, I don’t want to wait four years, to find the humor in this future memory. So today, I am going to choose to LAUGH… only sooner this time.

Because believe it or not, the septic tank truck is coming up our driveway… AGAIN.