This is going to be a BIG Christmas. Have I mentioned that? All our Christmases are BIG. But this one will be exceptionally BIG. Not only are David's parents here to add to the festivities, but the entire Townley Clan (that being my mother's family) are gathering to celebrate this year. This is not so unusual--we spend every Christmas together, but there is always someone who can't make it. And this year nary a face will be missing, and four new faces will be added to the bunch. That's right, four new great-grandchildren were added to the family fold this year, all within a space of four months.
Therefore, around the Christmas table this year will be, in order of venerability:
My grandparents, who recently celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary (I know!)
Their five children and their spouses, all present except my dear Uncle Ken, who passed away of cancer in 2006.
Their thirteen grandchildren, nine of whom are bringing spouses or partners.
Their seven great-grandchildren, one five years old, one three, one 18 months, and the rest under a year.
David's lovely parents.
I believe that's around 4oish people? So like I said, Christmas will be BIG.
After we celebrate our small family Christmas (my parents, my sisters-and-spouses, our children, and the Napuks--more on the myriad traditions regarding this later), we will all caravan out to my grandparents' house on Christmas Day. For a few hours there will be appetizers, my grandma's mulled cider with Soco, and much drinking and visiting. Then there will be the opening of presents, an elaborate process that begins with everyone drawing a name the year before and culminating in the Great-Under-$30-Gift-Exchange on Christmas Day.
After that there will be the feast, with "adults" in the dining room and "kids" (most of whom are now over thirty, but whatever) at a large folding table in the living room (Thank God we finally convinced my grandmother we were all too large for the traditional foldaway plastic picnic tables last year). The "kids" table is by now much, much larger and louder than the "adults" table. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
After the feast, there are stories and toasts and other insanities, followed by dessert, followed by a gradual thinning of the crowd as some of us make our way home, and the rest head to one of the four bedrooms upstairs. We used to have a tradition of going to a movie on the evening of Christmas, but seeing as we now take up the entire theater, and we are so happy to be in each others' company, this year we will most likely stay in. And recover.