It seems celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday and preparations for the Christmas holiday have overlapped this year. We did enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving with six of our seven adult children present over a period of 5 days. That means there were also 19 grandchildren in and out during that time. There were times when the noise level in the house was raised to a dangerous level.
Everyone in the family has inherited the competitive gene so the Scrabble, Bananagram, Appleletters and card games got more than a little noisy. Did You Know and Remember When stories flew back and forth. At one point there were books being read to little folks in 3 areas of the living room at the same time. The Little Engine That Could, The Hungry Caterpillar, Amelia Bedelia and Dr. Seuss's The Bitter Butter Battle were among the favorites. I am certainly glad that books, once read, don't have to be tossed. We have the story about the caterpillar in English but thanks to a dear friend from that country, we also have it in German. It is such fun to see the surprise in our new readers' faces when they plan to read the story to someone and we slip them the German version. "What happened? I can't read anymore."
Our children grew up with both sets of grandparents living within a few miles of our home. They called my mother The Candy Grandma and my husband's mother The Cookie Grandma. My mom didn't have the jelly beans and gum drops we may have at home. She had wonderful chocolate candies that came in boxes, each candy nestled in its own little pleated paper cup. My mother-in-law earned her title by having fresh cookies ready to serve at a moment's notice. You were hardly in the door when she had the coffee pot on and a plate of chocolate chip, raisin, peanut butter, date pinwheels or some other wonderful cookie on the table.
This year the 3rd anniversary of the Cookie Grandma's death was the day after Thanksgiving. She was proud to have a great-granddaughter named after her. Her namesake lived 500 miles away but Gram lived long enough to have several visits from little Sylvia. Sylvia is now in junior-kindergarten and talks about her great-grandma. We are not sure if she actually remembers her or just knows so much about her because of snapshots of them and our stories about her. Her parents took her to the cemetery to visit Great-Grandma's grave on the anniversary of her death. All those who were at our house that day went along with Sylvia and her parents. They gathered there to have prayer, conversation and, for old times' sake, cookies.
Little Sylvia wanted to give her great-grandma a large chocolate sandwich cookie. She put one at the base of the tombstone asking, "Will Grandma come up and get it and then be okay?" When told that wouldn't happen, she considered it a moment and then said, "Well, maybe a squirrel will eat it." She seemed satisfied knowing the cookie wasn't wasted.
The next day was when our attention turned toward Christmas preparations. Part of the reason for the quick transition is because the kids are starting to recognize that we are not just older but we are both shorter than many of them. Several of our visiting children and grandchildren are 6 foot tall or taller. They used their height and their energy to help wherever they could. Our kitchen cabinets do not reach all the way to the ceiling. I love to top them with pretty or interesting seasonal items but it is difficult and a little bit scary getting them up there.
My daughter not only removed our fall display of pumpkins, a turkey platter, cornucopia, etc. but also scrubbed the tops of the cupboards, the walls and ceiling. Then two granddaughters took over and put up a display of snowmen, holly and evergreen boughs. I felt on one hand that it was rushing the season but that reluctance was outweighed by the knowledge it would relieve me of my toughest Christmas decorating job.
Strong winds over the weekend prevented our tall and able visitors from helping hang the outdoor Christmas lights. My husband will tackle that job when the winds let up. My only contribution to that effort is to buy the lights and decorations and then watch someone else figure out how to hang them. And with that we have taken our first steps toward another Christmas season