Sunday, December 19, 2010

Here They Come A' Caroling

Cherished Family Times at Christmas

We have been real party animals this weekend with two family gatherings. Once all the preparations were completed for our dinner party, it was very relaxing. My two brothers and their families and Jim's Mom came over for a Christmas dinner Saturday night. Since we have been married we have had a Christmas gathering every year in our home.

It was once on Christmas Eve and originated with my parents way back when. But as the families have grown and grown up that is an impossible date for all of us so we normally have it the weekend before Christmas. If everyone could have come we would have had 36 now but each year it varies depending on a myriad of factors. This year we had a cozy 11 humans and 2 pups.

Back in the day we had Jim's great, great aunt, Lala Angie, Jim's grandparents, our own parents of course and all the kids. Then we started having my brothers' spouses' parents and over the years a boy friend or girl friend of one of the kids. Then all the second generation's spouses and their kids started coming along too. It has been so great on the years some of our own grandkids have occasionally been here. Some years it is more crowded than this old photo below!

One of the best things now is that over the past several years my cousin, Bob and his wife, Beth have joined us. When Steve and Gary and I were little we spent our Christmases with Bobby and his family, so we have come full circle since they joined us.

Beth and Bob
Photo borrowed from another time,

sadly no good photo of Bob this time.

It has been a great time and over the years many a loved one has participated in this tradition with us. We think of all of them each year, those that have passed on now and those too far away to come home for Christmas. They are all in our hearts and with us in spirit this time of year.

My brother Gary, and cousin Beth and Jim's mom, Gloria.

Gary's family, our nephew, Scott,
Marilyn and our niece, Erin.
The pups,
Missy in red and Lola in orange.

(Sorry Lola the large photo doesn't get you all in!)

No matter what we do, everyone seems to love hanging out in the kitchen before dinner. We have appetizers here and chat and it is great. Family sits at the kitchen table, on the hearth by the fireplace or on the little church bench. Or they stand and mingle. We set up all the drinks on the laundry room counter and it works out pretty well. When it gets closer to dinner I try to shoo them out into the family room so Jim and I can work. But they are reluctant to leave the heart of our home!

My brother, Steve in the blue shirt.

Those little snow flakes are metal and they
with a magnet to clean them up really quickly.

We were right on the cusp of having to have two tables but we squeezed in 11. It was more comfy that I thought it would be but, shall we say, it was really cozy. I didn't do anything elaborate for the center piece as we always have to move it, if it is too fancy to accommodate the Italian antipasta course which is something that every single Christmas dinner has always had. It is a tradition from Jim's side of the family from his grandmother, Marge. This dinner is served in the traditional Italian style and it is not an eat and run kind of a deal. We made lasagna ahead of time this year and it worked out perfectly and was so much easier than what we normally do. It was the first time we had tried that as a main course.

We really missed Tom and Jean and Ruth who couldn't make it this year due to illnesses. And Nick, Mara, Alesha, Raul, Sebastian and Samantha who had other family commitments, and of course all of our kids and grandkids.

Usually the family room is packed in pretty tight.

We always sing Christmas songs and open presents after dinner but this year we did it before dinner just to change it up a little while the lasagna was heating. Steve always plays the carols on the guitar and we make an attempt to sing along. Let's just say after all these years we are not the Osmonds, but we have fun. Scott also played some songs for us with a little twist of jazz. He is a professional musician in NYC and plays the standing bass and several other instruments.

We love this professional photo of him and his bass.
He can play a pretty wicked Frosty the Snowman!

And every year at the end of the caroling, it is our tradition for Steve to sing the Marty Robbins song, 'El Paso," that over the years we started calling Laredo...( Positively no idea why.) Jim's mom has to hear it each year or it is just not Christmas! As for Marilyn's parents who could not be with us, they got to hear it live over the iPhone. And Jim sent a few 'in the moment' texts with photos to our kids. So that was our party for this year!


Deanna said...

Hi dear! Looks like everyone had a wonderful time! Your table looks so pretty. Loved the dishware and the snowflakes are precious.

You have a lovely family!

Deanna :D

Marie said...

Looks like a wonderful time was had by all Bonnie. I love reading about family traditions and we all do have our own don't we! Wonderful! xxoo