Six days left to blog!

Day 361 of 366 Blog Challenge 2012

Hello all!

It was all set to be a great day when the family arrived at our daughter’s house yesterday to celebrate Christmas Day. We were greeted by two granddaughters excited that we had FINALLY arrived at midday … far too late for Alice and Violet who were waiting with bated breath.

The chicken the size of a turkey

Pat & Bel with the chicken the size of a turkey

Help was needed to ferry all the food and gifts from the car to the house but they were willing little helpers full of mischief and joy on Christmas Day! Meanwhile ‘The Hosts’ Maria and Steve were in full swing with preparations.

Daniel arrived with a chicken so large we thought it was a turkey! He proceeded to bake it in Maria’s oven as his real turkey (same size as the chicken he he) was cooking at home nearby.

Oh, it was all happening! The kitchen was a-buzz with people falling over one another as kids ran in and out, having a wonderful time. We were trying to get lunch under way before 3 pm and create a first in our Christmas record. Maria had been for 7k run in the morning (yes) and I predicted a crash on the sofa for her around 3pm. I wasn’t sure she would last much longer.

Belinda appeared with baby Madeleine in her red Christmas outfit, looking like a little ‘Santa Elf in training’ but sleep soon claimed her for the majority of the day’s festivities so her parents could enjoy their Christmas Day.

Maddie: Santa's Elf in training.

Maddie: Santa’s Elf in training.

Isaac (3) appeared and was soon taken in hand by cousins Alice (11)  and Violet (6) to be led astray elsewhere in the house whilst waiting to open Christmas presents. It was a lesson in patience for the young ones as they waited for us adults before gifts could be exchanged.

Belinda parents, Pat and David, arrived laden with food and gifts to complete the little family gathering that would be our Christmas celebration. We were all set for lots of food, fun and sharing.

And then before we knew it, it was all over … gone in a rush of children opening presents as Santa Dan handed them out. As usual with kids and Christmas there are always some stand out gifts that go straight onto the list of favourite gifts of all time. You can usually tell by the loud cries when the packages are torn open.

For instance, there was the HUGE Tonka truck from Auntie Ria and Uncle Steve to Isaac, and an electronic Checkout Cash Register with speaker for Violet from Auntie Bel and Uncle Dan. At one stage, Violet called out over the speaker: “Grandma, come to the Checkout”.

When I presented myself to Violet I was warned about leaving the store with stolen property. Oh dear, the Police were being called apparently. I got out of there as fast as I could! It was such fun folks …

What a truck!

What a truck!

Meanwhile, lunch was on track and things were looking good until Daniel called out urgently that the oven didn’t appear to be working properly and there were worries about the huge turkey-sized chicken cooking on time. A consultation was held with the older generation of cooks and extra time was called … for the chicken!

At the same time, I noticed that the Slow Cooker heating up my plum pudding was not doing so (was Maria’s electrics all failing at once?) until Steve jiggled some wires and a light came on. Oh No! No one wanted cold plum pudding for Christmas! Some things are sacred dear friends.

Lunch did happen but I hate to say it, it was later than our usual 3 pm … after such good intentions.  3.30pm in fact. We did try. Perhaps next year?? After eating Pat’s prawn cocktails and lots of other goodies whilst opening presents, it didn’t really matter that we ate so late after all.

Dining al fresco out in Maria & Steve’s back yard set amongst the trees was perhaps the best venue we have had for Christmas lunch in a long time. A cool breeze was blowing in and we were just out of reach of the sun. All good.

Pat & David with their silly hats ...

Pat & David with their silly hats …

We ate around the large table, tugged on our bon-bons, put on our silly paper hats and enjoyed the camaraderie that makes Christmas so special. Compliments were going the rounds such as: “the turkey is lovely, it is not overdone Dan” and “Mum, your vine leaves are the best EVER!” and “Maria, I love your smashed potatoes, give me another one!”

After lunch, it was time for cat-naps and various people could be found on sofas and couches snoozing until it was time for dessert. We needed a break! Maria outlasted my bet by over an hour and was found at 4.30 pm on the reclining chair in the Lounge Room in a deep sleep.

I managed to put Maddie to sleep before lunch and I also put a very tired Isaac to sleep for an hour around 5 pm. Belinda christened me “The Baby Whisperer.” The title was about to be confirmed when I put Maddie to sleep a second time but she woke up …  unfortunately my record was spoilt (but the name HAS stuck!)


The million dollar trifle ...

The million dollar trifle …

I hate to admit that dessert for our Christmas lunch did not happen until 5.30 pm!! We simply could not have managed it earlier. Maria’s million dollar trifle, bought from a specialty store, was worth every bit she paid for it whilst my plum pudding did get heated. However our attempts to pour rum over it and create an inferno for effect, failed miserably. Perhaps brandy next time? It was hailed ‘the best EVER’ though.

As we all packed up our belongings and shared food to take home  I said what we were all thinking: I honestly do not remember such a lovely Christmas Day in a long long time. It was simply one of those great family days.

And do you know what, despite my writing so positively about our wonderful day we’re not all perfect either. Tempers get frayed and altercations can happen but it is all about letting things go and making up but not allowing it to spoil the day. Today I read this quote and I thought about our family and what makes it work:

“I’m still discovering, right up to this moment, that it is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith. I mean living unreservedly in life’s duties, problems, successes and failures, experiences and perplexities. In so doing, we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God.” … Dietrich Bonhoeffer

That’s what we were doing: living unreservedly in all these areas of our lives. Not expecting perfection all the time but throwing ourselves completely into the arms of God. It’s the only way …

The Hosts: Maria and Steve

The Hosts: Maria and Steve

Daniel and Belinda

Daniel and Belinda

Me and Geoff

Me and Geoff

Violet and Alice

Violet and Alice complete with cash register

Alice with a very tired Isaac

Alice with a very tired Isaac