Hi, there. It’s Jillian and I’m here to talk a bit about my loving, funny and unique family. I come from a big one, which started with my Scottish-born great grandmother having 8 kiddos and those kids having 3-5 kiddos themselves. Family holidays were huge and involved everyone piling into my GrandMary’s house in Baldwinsville, New York, a suburb of Syracuse, to eat, play Gin Rummy (a card game) and badminton. Desert always involved coffee and a long gathering around the table for talking and laughing late into the evening.
These are very fond memories I’ve always kept with me, but more so, they were special because they seemed so unique to our family. I was taught to host guests well and to always have a “wow factor.” This habit explains why we had a bounce house, s’mores bar and rum-serving Captain Jack Sparrow impersonator at our wedding.
My family decorates for EVERY holiday, and I remember having big hearts and cherubs up for Valentine’s Day, green milk and pots of gold for St. Patrick’s Day, Easter egg hunts and Halloween parties as a kid. Christmas and Thanksgiving involved very large meals and family gatherings with little touches like “Santa’s footprints” made with baby powder and boot stencils in front of the fireplace on Christmas morning. I can’t wait to do all the things my quirky, awesome Aunt Mary has taught me as a Girl Scout leader, florist and mom for my kids one day. With that and Pinterest, I have quite the arsenal to entertain my kids for YEARS.
I typically fly up to Syracuse twice a year. The last time was in June for our wedding. This time was to celebrate my Papa’s 87th birthday with a big party at his nursing home. We had all of his favorites: homemade lasagna, raspberry Italian sodas and German chocolate cake. Since our wedding, Papa has developed spinal stenosis and is now wheelchair bound, but he’s doing well. We gave him a table desk, small dorm fridge and a stereo so he could listen to his classic music, read the paper and eat his fancy cheeses…anything to make him feel more at home.
Most years, the family gathers in Plum Island, Massachusetts, to spend the week together in a rented beach house. My Aunt Mary goes out of her way to make it special for everyone. We have clambakes, fly kites, light sparklers and build sandcastles. And even though my 12-year-old cousin Lillian is the only one we could consider a kid, we’re all kids at heart. Next time we visit Plum Island, we hope to have our own little one in tow!