Christmas is chaos. I have to clear a path to get to my chair. But it is wonderful to have a big family. And I do have a big family. How big? Well, I have seven children, they have twenty eight children, they have eight children and they have two more children. So when you add up the kids, grandkids, great grandkids and great-great grandkids, that’s 45 people to get Christmas presents for. Thank goodness for the dollar store!

I spend so much time helping out with the kids—picking them up at school, bringing them to sports—that I often forget my own appointments. But I love it. It gives me energy and keeps me going. I’m going to live until 110. They need me!

My grandmother grew up in an orphanage and hid her Native American heritage for fear of discrimination. But I am a proud member of the Seaconke Wampanoag Tribe. We have been working to keep our culture alive—learning some of our lost rituals from tribes out west and up in Maine. I dance at pow wows regularly. My granddaughters were championship dancers themselves and I am going to make sure the great grandkids carry on the tradition. 

A while back I hurt my knee coming out of a tent awkwardly. I guess the knee was more than “hurt.” I broke it, tore the meniscus and also had arthritis. I actually watched the surgery twice on YouTube before I got it. Dr. Jenkins, my orthopedic surgeon, said he never knew a patient who’d done that. I just like to know what I’m getting into!

The surgery at The Miriam Hospital went well. With rehab and physical therapy I went from a walker to a cane to nothing in six weeks. I am very happy and back to doing everything I want to do. 

Now I’m back to dancing. With the colder weather, the pow wows are now indoor at Mohegan. I’m planning to drive to Florida soon. And with my family it’s never too early to start planning for Christmas!

—Carole, East Providence RI