Thanksgiving is a large family affair for Record-Eagle reporter Alexa Zoellner. There are 47 people — all from Zoellner’s mom’s side — in this 2017 family photo. This year, 60 to 65 people are expected to attend the holiday celebration.

Last February, the title of a “Dear Annie” column caught my attention — “Thirty’s a crowd for hosts of annual Christmas get-together.”

This guy, “Crowded House,” was bothered by how large the annual Christmas get-together had gotten. Apparently there were 45 to 50 people that regularly were coming.

“Crowded House” was upset because:

A) For the last 17 years, he and his wife had (willingly) played host and (willingly) funded the parties;

B) Attendees tended to leave a mess behind; and

C) There apparently were 15 to 20 non-family members (invited by various family members) that showed up each year.

Admittedly, I get being irritated and feeling crowded by 20 non-family members being there each year. Still, I couldn’t help but laugh.

Why did I find this so funny? Simple.

It’s because 50 people is an “off year” for my family’s Thanksgiving.

“Off years” — which occur basically every other year — are when married family members go to their significant other’s Thanksgiving celebration or the way-out-of-towners don’t make the long trip.

This year, though, is an “on year” and we’re expecting 60 to 65 people.

Thanksgiving is spent with my mom’s family — dad’s side gets Christmas — and, believe it or not, the reason there’s so many of us isn’t that everyone has a ton of kids.

It actually has more to do with the fact that my mom’s first cousins are anywhere from 12- to 27 years older than her.

The age gap meant my mom was in junior high — give or take a few grades — when her first cousins were having kids. And now, those kids have had their own children.

If it sounds like a lot of names, faces and family tree branches to remember, it is. Seriously, I have to get a refresher from my mom or sister every year. I have no idea how they manage to keep things straight.

In my defense, even though Thanksgiving relatives are family, they’re extended enough that I really only see most of them once a year. And I do mean extended.

Not counting my parents and siblings, and since my grandparents and great-aunts are dead, my closest relatives at Thanksgiving are my first cousin once removed (also known as my mom’s first cousins).

Then there’s my second cousins (the children of my mom’s first cousins) and my second cousins once removed (the grandkids of my mom’s first cousins).

To make it more complicated, my sister, brother and I aren’t in the same age range as most of the people in our generation.

We belong to the same generation as our second cousins, but are actually closer in age to some of our second cousins once removed.

It all goes back to my mom being so much younger than her first cousins.

Can you see why I have trouble keeping things straight?

Regardless, they’re family and Thanksgiving is a fun day.

Everyone contributes to the food table, the desserts are awesome and the company is great.

I’m looking forward to it and I hope you all feel the same way about your own Thanksgiving.

Even though it’s early, be safe this Thanksgiving and have a happy holiday!

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