December 23, 2007

Auld acquaintance

Our home was filled last night, with family, mostly, and extra kids, and some friends we've known for years. I made the same food I make every year, big pots of chili, with rice to go with it, with healthy finger foods like cut-up veggies, hummus and pita bread, cheese and crackers. Since we remove the chairs from the kitchen area for the party, I serve only food that can be eaten standing up. We have this party on the Saturday before Christmas each year, and when it falls close to Christmas, as it did this year, the whole extended family is often able to attend, even those coming in from out of town.

Luckily, family and friends are used to the tradition of being crowded together. No one seems to mind eating while standing in the hallway, or sitting on the staircase. I saw Monking Friend and Nurse Friend happily talking and eating while standing in the laundry room, next to hampers of clothes and piles of boots. Since it's hard to maneuver in a crowded home, I give family members jobs to do: my father is in charge of putting logs on the fire, and my mother's job is to keep making new batches of rice.

Spouse, as is his tradition, gathered a group of people to practice some Christmas Carols, put on some Santa hats, and then head outside to go door-to-door singing carols. Tie-dye Brother-in-law nudged me. "Hey, that's what you need for your blog. Naked carollers!" He himself was quite willing to strip off his clothes, but his Jewish heritage and his own beliefs about religion prevent him from singing Christmas Carols, or wearing a Santa hat while posting naked for a blog photo.

We had other music in addition to the singing. In order to make space in the living room, Boy in Black had moved the drum set, amps, and guitars to a bedroom upstairs, where a group of teenagers jammed most of the night, despite being ridiculously cramped. The piano stayed downstairs, of course, so we had piano music in the living room. With-a-Why's version of Vince Guaraldi's Linus and Lucy was in demand, of course. My brother played the piano for a while and then With-a-Why, Shaggy Hair, and Quick all jammed onto the piano bench to try a few numbers together. As the evening grew later, my father, my brother, and Boy in Black played together (clarinet, guitar, and piano) and we persuaded Drama Niece, who has a fantastic voice, to sing a few songs.

By midnight, the older folks had said their goodbyes and the traditional "post-party" was in full swing. Teenagers and young people finally got the comfy couch and chair by the fire, where they could talk and eat leftover food. Spouse began piling plates and bowls into the dishwasher, while I put away any perishable food. When we went to bed, the kids were clearing the table for some kind of card game. This morning, every room is filled with bodies wrapped in blankets and quilts, sleeping soundly.


The musicians in the photo are my father, my brother, and my oldest son, Boy-in-Black.


liz said...

I love your family. And I love this photo of three generations of musical men in your family.

Pilgrim/Heretic said...

Oh, cool, your brother was there! I hope things are getting better between you.

OTRgirl said...

That sounds wonderful! I love crowded parties full of interesting people.

zhoen said...


So glad for you and yours. Thanks for sharing this with us.

julieunplugged said...

We had a similar night last night at our house! I don't have any family in Ohio, but we had my son's roomates and friends over with all of our kids and we ate Chinese and played Catch Phrase and laughed and lit a fire and watched football... It was so much fun.

Our house is also not spacious and I always wish it were roomier, but there is something nice about bumping up against one another and rubbing elbows. :)

Merry Christmas, Jo(e)! Your family delights me.

niobe said...

Merry Almost Christmas.

Cathy said...

Sounds like a marvelous time - and sounds like you have opened up some of your Christmas gifts already- the gift of memories....

Thank you for sharing.

argon(one) said...

I love your family stories. Your party sounds like a great tradition. I recall my younger days, as I was growing up in North Carolina, Christmastime was my favorite time of the year. It was not unusual for 40 or 50 people to be crowded into our house on Christmas Eve, singing, laughing, sharing gifts and food, and making memories.

My family and I are going to be in North Carolina just after Christmas and my niece is planning a party like yours while we're there. I can hardly wait!

Thanks for sharing.

Sue said...

You throw the best parties jo(e)!!

Merry Christmas!

Magpie said...

I love the musical tradition - really really sweet.

We always have singing round the piano, but it's been a long time since there's been a clarinet.