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Christmas With The Flanigan Family


It was Christmas morning and no one was astir, except me, who woke up at 5:30 a.m. not to unwrap the presents that Santa and his helpers left the night before but to watch the sunrise rise while I jogged down Las Olas Blvd., a palm tree lined street where my ‘home’ is in Ft. Lauderdale.

“It’s vacation Maddie, go back to bed,” my dad and brothers said.

“Sleep in and miss out on this morning?” I thought but didn’t say.

“You’re right but I can’t sleep,” is what came out of my mouth.

Christmas morning at the Flanigan casa is a memory I hold on tight to throughout the year. I grip onto it in February when the temperature is nineteen degrees and in July when families spend Sunday evenings barbecuing. My entire immediate family lives in Florida and I am the loner child who was different and independent and moved away. Christmas morning is a rare occasion where the seven of us – Paul, Michelle, James, Gerrit, Nick, Kirsten, and I – are together.

After my pre-dawn jog, we sat around the Christmas tree and exchanged gifts. Cliche, I know. Organization was thrown out the window as wrapping paper was ripped and tossed throughout the living room (I get a little nervous/ancy at the site of Β such a mess). Some presents were known while others were not. My gifts, as they are every year, were a hit. For my dad and my step-mom, I built terrariums and for my brothers, I mounted and framed vintage Playboy magazines (1950s and 1960s). My gift to my step sister, a simple sewing machine, was my favorite. I was so giddy to give it to her that I made sure it was the first present opened. I am crossing my fingers and toes that next time I visit home, she’s sewing up a storm. Could the Flanigan family handle two seamstresses? Under one condition – as long as I’m the better one. In between present openings, Bellinis (champage and peach juice), were sipped for the family members who were eighteen plus years of age (we’re not big supporters of underage drinking – that’s doesn’t make for a good holiday photo album).

The remainder of the day was a lot of laziness. Even though I didn’t know how to work the TV remote (I don’t own a television), I somehow managed to watch How The Grinch Stole Christmas, The Bishops Wife, andΒ football (I had absolutely no idea what was going on). I don’t think I left ‘my chair’ the entire day.

If only Christmas day could be every day.










  1. Reply


    Aw!! Too sweet! I totally get you about the whole loner child thing, too. I have an older brother who also moved away, but other than that the whole dang clan is in PA!! I always feel like I’m missing out on the good family stuff, so I cherish the time I have. I hope your stepsister LOVES the sewing machine!

  2. Reply

    Bekuh Browning

    Your Christmas looks so happy, and cozy. I’m so glad everybody liked your gifts, and that you got to do whatever you liked for a couple of days. I owe you a couple emails so be looking for those later today. Happy New Years!

  3. Reply

    Kate Hager

    what a fun christmas! sounds like you’re the ultimate gift giver. framing vintage playboy covers is such a cool idea!

  4. Reply


    Christmas in your family home looks magical! hope your sister enjoys her new machine, I am sure you will be a great teacher to her!

  5. Reply

    Michelle Flanigan

    Great post Maddie! Our Flanigan Christmas is very special thats for sure! Yes, your presents were definitely a hit. Not sure how you are going to top those next year….

  6. Reply


    It seems like your holiday was such a nice pleasure as well. What a beautiful Christmas! I hope your stepsister enjoys her new machine and joins us seamstresses.
    I knew your presents would be a huge hit, and I have come to know first hand that you are a great gift giver!

  7. Reply


    nice post.. πŸ™‚ so lovely Christmas time πŸ™‚Irene Wibowo

  8. Reply


    A family full of babes!! It looks like you had a great, and beautiful cheers to the decorator, time with your clan!

  9. Reply


    What a fantastic post. I love your gifts for your brothers! Hell, even I would like one, haha! If you don’t mind, that’s an idea I’d like to save for the future, for someone else… Anyway, it’s nice that you got to spend so much time with your family. Like you, I live far from mine. I have 10 cousins as well, and I am the only one who now lives out-of-state (and, really, even out-of-town). It’s so strange to go back–because, really, it’s like the city I live in now, and the tiny town in which I was raised are BOTH home. Do you ever feel the same way?

    Anyway, a belated Christmas to you, and a belated new year!

  10. Reply


    What a special time for you but dang girl, 5:30? I am such a night owl that totally scares me! I probably said this before, but your dad is quite a handsome wise looking man. You seem like his girl πŸ˜‰ Happy New Year!

  11. Reply


    What a great day! It’s hard to be far away from family, isn’t it? Even though we’re off pursuing our dreams and all that, it’s still tough.

  12. Reply

    Chrystina Noel

    Being a good gift giver is an awesome skill – maybe next year will be my year for that. Very nice choices πŸ™‚

  13. Reply


    It looks like a wonderful Christmas! I wish Christmas could be everyday too.

  14. Reply

    Meg the Grand

    This post made my day – you are all so marvelously happy in each other’s company, and it shows πŸ™‚

  15. Reply

    Marisa Noelle

    Just playing a little catch-up since my internet presence has been non-existent lately πŸ™‚ These are such sweet photos of you and your family! It really looks like a lovely Christmas holiday for you. I hear you about being far away from family – though mine is not nearly as far, I still miss them to pieces on a day to day basis. Happiest new year Maddie! xo Marisa

  16. Reply

    julie Wilkins

    I love your Christmas photos. Beautiful table, and great looking bunch of family members.

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