Perhaps, it is best said by the wreath... "This Home Believes". We believe in the power of love, the strength of a close-knit family, and the miracles of Christmas. We spent a lovely "real" Christmas with Erica and Casey. Erica was concerned we would miss the "joy of the children" on Christmas morning, but I assured her that that would all be felt on Allen Family Christmas and that I would in fact, enjoy a quiet celebration, sipping champagne, tasting each bite of my delicious meal and having the opportunity of admiring the gifts I had been given. Those are things that are much less likely to happen at Allen Family Christmas.
This year the Lodge was sporting a 20 foot woods tree, drug from the woods by Eric and Pete... yes, I was thrilled to get a year off! The grandkids chose small trees for their rooms and gathered "ice plates" for the tree fort we had made from all the fallen branches from the November ice storms. Little Della proclaimed we were all in a "Winter Wonderland". I was glad she was up to gather her tree as by Christmas, there was no snow at all. Eric once again, "enhanced" it by drilling in branches, some actually supported by wire.. but it was a beautiful tree after he worked his wonders. Beautiful too, was the brand spanking new fireplace we have waited nine years to put in. As it was both a big job and a costly endeavor, it had not made the priority list, though each year when I hung the stockings, I dreamed of the day we would have a real mantel.
We celebrated only a few days after real Christmas. Vanessa, Drew, Lawson and Avery came to spend the night before Christmas and everyone else arrived just after noon. If you look closely, you will see where Lawson (and Avery) spent most of the morning waiting very anxiously for the others to arrive. Jess, Pete, Lexi, Della and Annette and Kat and Peighton all stayed the next night. Poor Pat was wonderful to take Phoebe back to their home as a cry out in the middle of the night would waker her for sure...leading to the rest of us spending a sleepless night. Just a bit more time and sleeping will get much easier for all the children.
Once the present opening begins, things get pretty chaotic. One has to be quick to keep abreast of who is opening what and from whom it came! We let all the children open their things first and then after a mimosa break, we adults start opening. I wish I could say that was more relaxed, but in order for that to happen with ten adults, we would still be there at New Years! It has greatly helped that we now exchange names for the adults and all but Nana and Gran for the children...we still want to buy for all the children until their wish list gets too filled with electronics at which time we may choose to join the name drawing. Right now, it is wonderful to watch their faces light up at a pair of P.J.'s with their favorite character on them, or a hand-sewn costume, or a new book... all things fun to gather over the course of the year.
We have also gone to a "grazing" meal plan. It works much better as there is no working around everyone's varying appetites or nap times. With a lot of help, I just keep pumping out food all day long until we all move on to the rum cake and frozen pies for dessert.
I think it is fair to say that by the end of the day, we all know we have had quite a day... but it was a day full of lots of great memories. I know they are ones that Eric and I live on all year long and each Christmas seems to bring with it at least one story that will be told for countless Christmasses to come. Now isn't that what it's really all about?