Monday, December 31, 2007
The Best Christmas Lights are Tail Lights
I'm really kidding - kind of. We are back in Georgia, after a seven year absence, and have just completed our first round of Extended Family Christmas Togetherness since our move home from South Carolina. Since that time my side of the family has expanded: 3 spouses and 5 children have been added, including a newly pregnant sister-in-law. We eagerly anticipated hostessing our first Christmas together as a family, but the scheduling and re-scheduling of such event was beyond anything we could have reasonably imagined. I have 3 married siblings, with in-laws, each with their own set of traditions and nuances surrounding the big day. Penciling in a time for all of us to eat together seemed a simple enough task, but the herculean effort it would take to actually come to fruition would leave anyone crosseyed.
In South Carolina, John and I were members of two seperate supper clubs and throwing a dinner party for 30 was commonplace. You hosted, you set the time, your guests arrived. With family it is much different. You host, you set the time, and then the negotiating begins. With a total of 17 members involved this year, the time changed several times, several days before Christmas, with much concern about who was actually going to make it at all. Keeping up with who could come at what time and could eat or not eat became a Rubik's cube of place settings that would have made Martha Stewart cry.Or cancel.
What John and I realized is that where family is concerned expectations and compromises are always going to be stretched at holiday time. Whereas a dinner guest would decline an invitation if the time didn't suit, family members will all but re-arrange the clock, or implore God to momentarily suspend time, just to insure that everyone can be together. So, our Christams dinner turned into a Christmas Open House - family members arriving at 2:30, some leaving soon thereafter, and some arriving soon after that . We had dinner at 5:30, minus just a few, and closed the door behind the last family member at 9:30 pm. (Maybe because my husband said to me, "Come on Joni, let's go on to bed so these good people can go home.")
So, was it worth all of the maneuvering that proceeded Christmas Day? Yes. Was it worth all the planning of the meal and the setting and re-setting of tables? Of course. How about the frantic cleaning of the house after the chaos of Christmas morning? Absolutely. So you would do it all again next year, right? Nope. Next year's a breather. We'll be joyfully celebrating on some ski slope somewhere cold, while the rest of my family members play musical chairs with their dinner plates.
To all extended family members:you KNOW I love you! You keep me on my toes.