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Let The Holidays Begin

We had our first party as a family this
weekend and survived to tell the tale.

The annual Christmas party Brian and I used to have was put on hold
when Maddie was born, and this was the first year we had the energy
to revive the thing. In years past it’s been an open house
starting around 9 p.m. and going to the wee hours, but this time we
kicked off at 10 a.m. and went right up to that immovable deadline
of naptime. Aside from the obvious problems, like re-thinking the
menu for brunch rather than Friday night nibbles, I was most
concerned with the logistics of having a party with little kids:
would our playgroup friends be comfortable around childless
co-workers, and vice-versa? Would the kids have a good time? Would
they wreck the house and leave it uninhabitable for adult
partygoers? Would Cora indulge herself in her current favorite
pastime – Taking Off the Pants?

The first sign that this was not going to
be like our other parties was when my mom woke up that morning with
an eye nearly swollen shut. A quick trip to a walk-in clinic
confirmed that yes, indeed, it was infected, and there was no way
to know if it was pinkeye or something non-contagious. At that
point, I couldn’t decide which stressed me out more –
worrying about getting guests sick, or worrying that my girls might
be getting pinkeye right around Christmas.

My mom graciously isolated herself, refraining from helping with
any food prep and keeping herself away from the kids as much as
possible. The sight of her weeping eye did scare off one mother
about to board a plane for the holidays, and I can’t say I
blame her; if it weren’t my party I’d probably have
isolated my girls as well!

Pinkeye threat aside, though, the party was a smashing success.
Maddie sat lookout at the window for a good hour before the first
guests arrived, anxious that she not miss any of her friends’
arrivals. Cora ran around in her festive party clothes and new hair
bow (“Cora hair bow! Cora hair bow!”) and tried hard to
sneak a piece of fudge off the plate. And when guests began showing
up, the girls threw aside any remnants of restraint and dug into
the feast of friends with abandon. For three hours the kids had the
run of the place, scrambling up the stairs and down, thumping
around the game room and chasing monsters around the kitchen. And
through it all, adults grazed and laughed and chatted and relaxed.

Naptime was, of course, delayed, as no great party ever ends on
time, and both girls were loath to see it end even as they stood
drooping in their tracks. Maddie was thrilled to have all her
friends in one place simultaneously to having access to fudge and
cookies, and Cora couldn’t believe how many people found her
adorable. Of course.

As for me, I had a fantastic time. Even though providing food for
50 people kept me running around the kitchen, I loved seeing family
members meet playgroup friends, and our church pastor having a good
chat with my dad. I loved seeing friends gather in the kitchen,
hanging out at the breakfast bar and grazing idly while helping out
or just catching up. I get a kick out of providing a great space
for people to hang, and I loved seeing my girls enjoy their first
real party.

The party signals, for me, the real start of the Christmas season;
all my out-of-town boxes are mailed, all my massive baking and
cleaning finished, shopping is complete, and I’m ready to
enjoy these last few days gearing up for Christmas. We’ve got
Nutcrackers to see, lights to wander around and gaze at, and a ver
special three-year-old angel to see in her first Christmas pageant.

Let the Christmas celebrations begin.


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