The Fourth Day of Christmas

Whoofda! For most of you, the beautiful chaos is yet to come. We celebrated our family Christmas yesterday. Our crowd was larger or smaller than yours – thirteen in all, age-spread quite large. In the morning everyone slid slowly into the day talking quietly over coffee while Bernie made omelets individually ordered. Then people putzed with showers and getting dressed while we cleaned up from the morning mess.

Then my adult daughters made desert and various hot dips for crackers and chips and Bernie’s brother showed up with his traditional smoked salmon contribution from Morrey’s Fish House. Then we all ate the aforementioned and cleaned up the mess made from that.

Then we exchanged gifts. As a practice, our family is not into big ticket gift giving for which I am grateful, but there were a couple of really generous offerings this year as well as some giving connected with favorite charities, a growing family practice for which I am also grateful. Then we cleaned up after that.

Supper was next. The consensus was to go Italian this year. We were ready with gallons of home-made sauce and added lots of pasta, garlic bread and salad. We filled two tables and ate as though we hadn’t eaten all day. Then we cleaned up after that. I should say that this time, my two granddaughters, Maddie and Emma cleaned up. I glanced at them once in a while and caught Emma cleaning the back of my stove and around the nobs and the front and sides of my refrigerator. I didn’t dare comment until they were finished. I’d never really seen these two grandchildren step up to the plate like that before. It was thrilling.

Then we did the Jesus story. This year I told the story rather than read it from the Bible or some children’s book. I said, “We all know the story. Let’s just tell it in a way the kids get it.” Our practice is to pass around the figures from the crèche and have people use them like you would Barbie and Ken dolls to tell the story. I was the moderator. Granddaughter, Ana, took the responsibility to move all the characters to the little barn on the table where they were to end up. She also served as midwife to Mary since she was the only one who knew where the baby Jesus was hidden. The desert that my daughter Becky had made earlier in the day served as Jesus’ birthday cake. We lit candles and sang the appropriate “Happy Birthday” to Jesus. Three year old Jackson looked around for who might be the birthday person and, noticing that everyone was singing, he smiled humbly as though he just realized that we must be singing to him. We ate the cake with decaf coffee. Then we cleaned up after that.

A few family members left and those who’d come from afar and would be staying the night sat around and played games. The favorite was Outburst which granddaughter Emma thought to conduct in the style of Family Feud, which everyone loved. Later we played a family favorite card game, “Thirteen” which lasted too late to finish. We didn’t even clean up after that.


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