Three of the Grandchildren have been here all week, and we've had quite a rollicking, raucous good time, with what Chris calls our "Wonderful Pandemonium" going non-stop.
We've gone upstairs THREE TIMES to open a few gifts, with locals dropping in with theirs-to-us, which of course called for getting into the ours-to-them, with the babies and their big plastic toys and wagons, and all the bead-looms and painting sets and create-a-model's wardrobe spread on every available surface. All meals seem to be a jumble of when and where and how soon, a fluster of heat in the kitchen and every pan in use. Sitting down usually involved a higgledy-piggledy scatter of plates and chairs (miscounted twice, once by Chris, who had to scoot upstairs to get an extra, and once by ME, who insisted he GO upstairs for one more, when I'd gone over the numbers several times---I'd included Gracie, who was not here yet---I guess I will ALWAYS count her in my heart).
And somehow, the clunky old stainless salt-shaker that lives on the stove, with its big round handle and the dings of a thousand uses and the scratches of a million scrubbings incised in its skin, seemed to make its way right into the center of the table, passed around as neatly as if it were family sterling.
It WAS chaos, and it was pandemonium and it was wonderful all the same---the too-tired to admire a gift properly, the can't-take-another-step, can't-wash-another-dish---those overtook me time and again, but the wonderful won out. It always does.
It's been fun to watch the little ones, the young lady who has spent today creating fabulous paper-doll wardrobes with swatches of everything from vinyl to faux leopard, with sequins and ribbons and glitter and glue; that "kit" was a find---brand-new, virgin cellophane and untouched carry-case---at a yard sale far back in the hot days.
The littlest one who toddled about the room, avoiding dogs, feet, toys, a rocky-horse which is permanently in residence, with William Tell Overture tinkling out merrily at odd moments. There's a Radio Flyer wagon and an immense pink and green and white dollhouse with a whole commune of family and furniture to match---the wagon and house both from Santa and constructed on the dining table at midnight on Christmas Eve. This house has the daring innovation of having the bathroom on the flat roof of the garage, with the bright red toilet seat available to any open-air afficionado, as well as an inviting yellow slide perched on the attic precipice, ready to hurl the unwary slider into the flowerpots far below.
We walk around various gifts, chairs with piles of ready-to-fold laundry, the weighty old ammo-box serving as stile over the baby-gate at the stairs, its own primary-color decor seeming to advertise that it might contain LEGOS rather than its hundredweight of lethal contents, and all the other necessaries of life in a houseful. Our boy roamed from Grand to Grand to Grand to Grand, the second pair of whom drove a couple of hours for another visit today and also took us all to dinner. Any other day, I'd a just DIED if they'd seen my house looking like this.
The four-year-old whose voice seems to emanate from a fairy-throat tells the most interesting, intricately-plotted stories of horses and dinosaurs and cats and places known only to herself---along with one tiny SuperHero who flies alongside her keeping guard as she rides her horse through the Yukky Forest to visit GranFodder, who is a lady with even more cats and an unending supply of cookies and fudge and stories to tell.
The just-over-a-year young lady whose Mom surprised me with a framed picture of Daughter and Daddy, one of the snaps from the "maybe the Christmas Card" group made here on Thanksgiving---they're posed by chance in front of my son's own baby picture with those same curls, those clear green eyes. All conversation stopped, all rustling of paper ceased, to see me shedding tears over the dearness of the entire thing. I looked up to see WIDE eyes, astonished faces, as I wiped my own eyes and said something about silly old Grandmas.
And Chris, without whom I would never have known this group who have come to be my own, awaiting the births of each, holding them soon and warm, seeing them grow and turn to me as readily as to all the kin bound by blood. I'm every day re-enchanted by his eternal patience and quick wit and a kindness beyond measure.
I know I'll probably allow myself to finally collapse with weariness when they leave tomorrow, but it's been one of the nicest Christmases I can remember. I guess I didn't know on Thanksgiving just how thankful I AM.