This year, there would be no waking during the night for the sisters to secretly open their Christmas stockings together. The young parents were too tired to think about an extra waking during the night. There was no fine china or silverware on the table for Christmas dinner. Two new words were introduced into our 2017 Christmas: paper plates. We prepared and consumed so much good food over the course of five days with one third of our populous now being young children, that no one minded the paper ware. There was also no silent, contemplative Christmas Eve. I had imagined an evening of lessons and carols with the family and quiet moments of joy and wonder with the children. Instead, it was about comings and goings, quieting over-tired little ones, walking fussy babies to sleep, and watching the clock for bedtime. I expect those shared quiet moments will come again one day. For now, the wondrous birth of our Savior and the reason for our celebration remained in my thoughts each day and night. I hummed and sang Christmas carols to the children. In the quiet, early mornings I read the scriptures and listened to the corresponding carols (thanks to youtube) and embraced the love that was given to us through the birth of Christ all those millennia ago. We shared it in bits and pieces and that was okay, too.
I'm sure almost everyone in the family had their own expectations of what the holiday weekend would include. I certainly had my expectations. But part of being in a family, large or small, requires some to compromise for others. Some of our traditions began when there were two or three or four of us. Now we are sixteen! So, rather than gather 'round the Christmas tree sipping eggnog and listening to carols as I had imagined, the men kept a fire going out in the field and we ushered in the shortest day of the year with a fire. Neither rain nor cold prevented the fire from burning. During the day, the men cut down dead trees to fuel the fire. The wives laughed at the boyish nature of the men with their forts and fire. The men came inside for meals, bringing with them the smell of fresh air and smoke. The women ushered children out to play and back in for naps.
Amidst all the hubbub, some of us attended church, some of us went out to visit other family in the area, two went on a thirteen mile hike, one slept out in the field in a tent, one caught poison ivy, two had runny noses, two were teething, several cooked and cleaned, a few did laundry, several spent many, many hours driving to get here and back, three took a meal to Mrs. C., everyone hugged and kissed and laughed, one burned his little fingers in the fire, one little guy ate a lot of oranges, and all the adults gained three pounds each. And finally, one cried on Wednesday afternoon after everyone departed and she was left all alone.
|Six grands with Tess and Chelsea|
|Violet aka Doll Baby|
|Marian, Charlie and Nonni|
|The hobo shelter in times of rain.|
|Chelsea and Audrey with Charlie and Violet|
|Daniel and Claire|
|Matthew. Those boots : )|
|Audrey, Violet, and Jared|
|Simon, Ian, and Jared among the poison ivy|
|Pop the overseer|
|Fueling the fire.|
|Hugo and Marian|
|Charlie takes a shot.|
|Matthew (in Aunt Audrey's twenty two year old Cozy Coupe)|
|Chelsea, Steve, Audrey, and Tess (Sadly, Claire was out visiting and missed the photo)|
Look at that fire!