Mary Kidder usually spends Christmas with her husband, Hartwell, and their six children and their spouses, 18 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.
Unfortunately, for the first time in 62 years, Mary was unable to spend the holiday with her family.
She and Hartwell are in Florida, where they retreat to during the cold weather for health reasons.
“We can’t wait to come home,” Kidder said during an interview from her other home in Florida.
Kidder didn’t spend the past seven months without seeing anyone in her family — her daughter, Kathleen, and son-in-law, Robert, visited her in Florida.
“She stayed for three months.” said Kidder. “We had so much fun. They only left because (they had to file their) income tax.”
The 82-year-old was expecting to be home for Mother’s Day, but her children asked her to stay in Florida a little bit longer.
“They’re fixing our house, and it’s not put together yet,” she said. “I have no idea what to expect when we get home.”
Most would expect a family to grow apart over the years, but the Kidder clan is still close, something Mary said is very important to her.
“We’re a very close family,” she said. “All 62 of us will get together this summer. I’m very proud of that.”
Kidder retired from the Ayer School Department in 1986 after 22 years as the principal’s secretary. Before that, she was a correspondent for The Public Spirit.
She said taking care of six children and writing for the newspaper wasn’t always as easy as she would have liked. She said she used to trick her children to get them to take naps.
“I used to tell them they had to take a ‘polio’ nap everyday,” Kidder laughed. “I would tell them if they didn’t take their nap, they would get polio. That was so the house could be quiet so I could write my column.”
Kidder said she remembers covering meetings and other town events, but certainly not sports.
“I know nothing about sports,” she admitted. “My son told me he shot an eagle while playing golf, and I told him it was illegal to kill eagles.”
Her son, Kenny, remembers another of his mother’s bloopers.
Hartwell and his son, Kevin, were watching a Boston Bruins game one night. They had to get up early for work the next morning, so they asked Mary to stay up and finish watching the game and let them know who won. When they woke, the found a note from Mary on the table.
“The note said, ‘Somebody died at the Bruins game and they canceled it. I shut it off,'” Kevin explained. “My brother went and got the daily paper to find out the game went into sudden death overtime, but she didn’t know what that was. She thought someone died, and she shut if off.”
All of the Kidders’ six children have names that start with the letter K: Kenny, Kevin, Keith, Kathleen, Karen and Kimberly. Mary said that was deliberate.
“When I had Kathleen, my aunt made me a beautiful pillow that had the initials ‘KMK’,” Mary said. “I didn’t want to get a new pillow.”
The size of the Kidder family is something Mary likes to joke about. “We’re trying to populate the town,” she laughed.
Kenny, Kevin and Kimberly still live in Ayer, while Kathleen and Karen moved to New Hampshire. Sadly, Keith passed away in 1994.
“My brother and I couldn’t move away,” Kenny said. “In respect to a radio, my brother is a song away and I’m the commercial.”
Mary can’t wait to be with her family again and is looking forward to the fall trip.
This year, the Kidders are traveling to Bermuda, via cruise ship.