The last time the entire Woodbury clan was together was over two years ago. We tried to organize reunions in both 2011 and 2012, but could never quite decide on a location or date that worked for everyone. A few e-mails had been bounced back and forth trying to get something on the calendar for 2013, but nobody had committed to anything. And then at the end of last summer, the stars aligned. Matt's younger sister and her family were moving to the East Coast after living abroad for the past several years. His brother in New Jersey offered up his house as a place to stay for anybody willing to make the trip East. And before we knew it, Matt's parents plus the remaining two Woodbury siblings and their families had booked airline tickets and the countdown to a 2012 Thanksgiving reunion had begun. Here's how reunion week went down:
Sunday: The day after everybody arrived, we headed north to Newport, Rhode Island. We broke up the drive by stopping in Mystic, CT for lunch. I thought Mystic Pizza would just be a tourist trap (there are TVs on almost every wall playing the movie on repeat), but it turns out that the pizza is actually really good.
Here's what a hotel room full of 17 cousins looks like (we were short two cousins who were asleep in their own room at the time):
Among the under-10 crowd (on the left), it was mass chaos, while the teenagers (on the right) were engrossed in their media devices.
Monday: We spent the day touring the Newport mansions. The last time Matt and I did this was over 12 years ago, when we spent a weekend in Rhode Island for our first wedding anniversary. It was fun to go back, especially now that we have become Downton Abbey fans (along with the rest of the world). Yes, I realize that these Newport mansions are located on a completely different continent, but they still reminded me of the show. And considering the contents of the gifts shops in these houses, I am not the only one who thinks so. Our first stop was The Breakers:
After The Breakers we headed into town for lunch and a stop at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. We decided not to pay the admission fee to get into the museum and tour the grounds. Instead we wreaked havoc in the gift shop (I don't think the employees knew what hit them... it was a lot of people in a very small space) and posed for a photo in front of the main grass court:
Next up was The Elms:
And our final tour of the day was Marble House:
Tuesday: This was a rest day. It was the one day that I decided to send Ella and Claire to school. Ella's class put on a short Thanksgiving play in which Ella played a pilgrim. She was not excited about her role because she thought she would have to wear a skirt. Thankfully she was able to perform in pants, and she was over the moon excited that her cousins from Utah stopped by to watch her.
Wednesday: On the day before Thanksgiving, we headed into NYC to watch the balloons get inflated for the parade. We went early to try to avoid the biggest crowds and were worried that we wouldn't be able to see much, but were pleasantly surprised that most of the balloons were already blown up.
Claire was enamored with the Hello Kitty balloon, which led off the parade this year, and was adamant that I properly document it.
Here is a view of what the balloons and crowds looked like from a distance:
After seeing the balloons, we walked around the city.
Pictures on the steps of a stranger's brownstone (always one of our favorite photo opportunities).
Britney and Lucy. It was so fortuitous that we ended up having this reunion when we did, because Britney (the oldest of the cousins) will be leaving on an 18-month long church mission to Argentina in February. We wouldn't have had another opportunity to all get together until 2014.
The ubiquitous Times Square shot.
Katie, Britney, and Ella in front of Radio City.
Cousins sitting on a curb in Rockefeller Center waiting to eat the Magnolia cupcakes we just purchased. This picture was taken about 20 seconds before we were asked not to sit on the curb.
Once we relocated to the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral, everyone was finally able to chow down.
Thursday: On Thanksgiving, Matt's brother Thomas and his wife Melissa were gracious enough to host all 31 of us for dinner. Did I mention we all spent the night at their house that night as well? I'm not sure if they fully realized what they were getting themselves into, but we were grateful for the chance to be together under one roof.
The adult table.
The kids' table.
Loading up the plates.
Grandma Kathy's layered Jello.
Notice how all of their plates consist mostly of rolls and Jello.
Saturday: We made one more trip into the city to see The Lion King on Broadway. It was Claire's first show and she was thrilled to get a Lion King charm bracelet as a souvenir.
Sunday: (This was technically part of Week 48, but I wanted to keep all the reunion photos together.) This was our last day together, and of course it wasn't until the very end that Lucy and her 3-year-old cousin Emalee discovered each other.
Emalee, Britney, and Lucy.
Emalee told her mom, "I made a new friend!" Lucy said (of Emalee), "She's pretty cute."
Matt had reunion shirts made for everyone similar to the ones he created for our last reunion to the Outer Banks. This time they were long-sleeved and said "NYC '12" on the front and "Giving Thanks, Woodbury Style" on the back. We all gathered for one last picture in our shirts before heading our separate ways.
Who's ready to start planning the next reunion?