...smiling faces, warm embraces . . .
. . . humerous moments and treasured traditions.
Our children are coming "home" for Christmas this year. Well, actually, a few days after Christmas. They arrive on Sunday the 29th - the New Mexico clan's train reaches Topeka at 5:30 a.m. The college kids (and significant others) will be waiting to load them up and all make the 90 minute trip to Green Acres. Dave's father, sister, niece and aunt arrive a little later to spend the day. The kids will be here until New Year's Eve or New Year's Day - depending on job schedule.
Every time we plan a get-together like this, my Norman Rockwell fantasies kick into high gear and I have visions of the ten of us gathered around the table, eating delicious, calorie-free, home-cooked meals. Or gathered by the tree, reading the Christmas story, singing carols, and exchanging artfully wrapped gifts. All children are well-behaved, all conversation is pleasant, and all dogs snooze quietly in the corner. On New Year's Day we brunch while watching the Rose Parade and marveling at the beauty and intricacy of the floats.
In reality, we don't even have a table that would seat ten. Nor do we have a dishwasher, so we will be eating from paper plates on the kitchen table, TV trays or coffee table - wherever we can find an open spot. Our grandsons are amazing young men but, on occasion, they are a bit loud, rowdy and - gasp! - disobedient. The dogs - our two, plus one visitor - wrestle in the living room, growl over food bowls, and knock things over with wildly wagging tails. Some of us can't carry a tune in a bucket. My gifts are hastily wrapped with those cheap stick-on bows. And no one gives a hoot about the Rose Parade except me.
And that is when Norman Rockwell dies - again.
But we will laugh and chat and do jigsaw puzzles. We'll watch A Christmas Story, read books, play board games and have target practice in the pasture. Occasionally we'll disagree and speak harshly and hide in the bathroom for a minute of alone time. We'll eat bbq wings, drink sparkling grape juice, and blow noisemakers with the grandsons as we welcome in 2014. We'll be a family - not the idealistic families in the paintings, but a real family with highs and lows, disagreements and celebrations. With apologies to Norman Rockwell.