ANDERSON – “It’s good, not having to run around town to each household,” said Pauline Mansfield, 67.

The family – from Anderson, Michigan, Virginia, Mississippi and Kentucky – ranges from 3 months old to 84 years old.

And every Christmas, they enjoy food, tales and laughter.

“You have your immediate family, but to have your extended family, is more,” said Chamberlain Friday, surrounded by about 50 family members. “We see each other in passing, but we don’t get to catch up.”

Each person brings one covered dish and $3 as entrance fees.

This year, Shonda Armour, 49, and Ranika Lynch, 31, were given the hostess responsibilities, although cooking a covered dish won’t happen. The second cousins can’t cook.

“If you got a little bit of money, you don’t have to know how to cook,” Armour said with a chuckle. “You just give them the money.”

Lynch brought a triple-layer chocolate cake from Wal-Mart and Armour brought a necessary beverage.

“I always bring the water,” she said.

It’s a fact that just might be added to the family tales.

Nate McClendon, from Ratcliff, Ky., introduced his family to “My LifeStory,” 130-page binders to record family history, contacts and medical conditions.

“Every time we have one of these reunions, they’re always talking but no one writes it down,” said McClendon, 47.

He implored his family to sit down for about an hour at a time and fill in the details.

“The older ones who have the stories are going to pass and our history is lost,” McClendon said.

The Chamberlain family is originally from Mississippi. Although no one is certain of what year the family began migrating, they do know that it all began with McArthur Chamberlain, now 84, and his cousin George Chamberlain, now deceased.

The two young men caught a train from New Orleans to Indiana in search of work.

“We were looking for the big money,” said McArthur Chamberlain, rubbing his thumb against his fingers.

McArthur Chamberlain, the eldest family member has worked for several of the major companies in Anderson, including Delco and General Motors.

His sister, Mansfield, also worked for General Motors, and both agree that Anderson was a different city back then.

But, as Mansfield looked around at four generations of their family Friday, she said she was happy to have survived the city’s ups and downs, open-heart surgery and cancer.

“It’s just good to look around and I’m just glad to be able to look around,” she said.

Contact Christina M. Wright, 640-4883, christina.wright@heraldbulletin.com.

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