Over Thanksgiving, our lives transform from their usual chaotic pace into a frenzy of family and food as we come together with other Zichs to share a holiday meal.

My side of the family cannot compete with the noise level made by Ron’s clan, and there is a very simple explanation.

The reason Thanksgiving packs as many fireworks as the Fourth of July is because Ron’s sister, Cynthia, has as many boys as we do.

When both families gather at Grandma and Grandpa Zich’s house on Wednesday night, there will be six adults, two teenage boys, four younger boys and one sweet girl all under one roof.

Hopefully, there will be no dog, but I cannot make that guarantee at this point because I still haven’t booked Glory in a kennel.

The cousins see each other so rarely that they get totally hyper when reunited. But no one is as eager for the big reunion as Jimmy, who can’t wait to see his cousin Wayne so they can play tricks on my niece, Nicole.

I still don’t think the itching powder they sprinkled in her suitcase two years ago was funny, nor was I amused when one of them dropped a "bag of stink" immediately after the family picture was taken at Easter.

For those of you wondering what a "bag of stink" might be, I can only describe it as something my boys purchased at the local mall that smells horrible when thrown on the ground.

Cynthia’s husband, Ron and Grandpa decided years ago that the best solution to hearing the TV over the noise of the kids is to turn it up as high as the rest of us can stand it.

That means his sister, Grandma and I must yell our conversations to one another or sit extremely close together. Usually, it makes more sense to do the latter, because it’s the best way to fit a lot of people on one couch.

As the years go by and the kids get bigger, Thanksgiving becomes more and more about family togetherness.

Jimmy and Wayne are almost as tall as their fathers. They also eat like grown men, which means Grandma will be cooking for eight adult appetites or even nine, depending on whether Tommy has a big breakfast.

I hope she knows what she’s in for.

Christmas shouldn’t be nearly as wild at my parents’ house in North Carolina. The Zich brothers’ Tar Heel cousins are girls, which makes for a much calmer holiday atmosphere.

We won’t come close to experiencing a "Silent Night" with Jimmy, Tommy and Ronnie on the loose, but neither will there be shrieks from practical jokes and "stink bags."

The most memorable event last Christmas happened as the boys opened their presents from Ron and me.

We were gathered around the Christmas tree with my parents and little sister, opening gifts to each other, when Ronnie burst out crying.

After I rushed over and asked what was wrong, he said, "You and Daddy didn’t get me nearly as much stuff as Santa Claus did!"

I couldn’t come up with a good excuse and simply allowed my youngest child to think we were cheapskates, much to the amusement of my parents.

Surely, I will have new tales for next year’s Thanksgiving column, and I hope by then whatever goes wrong this year will seem comical.

Here’s to family togetherness and all the memories being made in homes across the globe this Thursday. Remember to save some room for pie!

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has been married to a Marine for 18 years and currently lives in Springfield, Va. You may e-mail her at or visit her Web site at

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