Since my birth, we have celebrated Christmas Eve with my mom's side of the family, at my grandparents' tiny farmhouse.
In 1980, there were 18 of us ...
Today there are 57. Five generations.
I love big families.
Christmas Eve, 1981
I remember ...
... helping set the table with the 12 Days of Christmas glasses.
... placing heaping brown sugar in bowls for the Lefse.
... counting the 14 grandkid stockings hung on the railing. Plus, Grandpa's way at the top!
... the long wait in between finishing our meal, cleaning up, and sitting around to open gifts.
... the youngest one opening first.
... the year I moved from the kiddie name-exchange to the adults.
... mixing 6 flavors of soda in one glass, and drinking it!
... pickled herring with Ritz crackers.
... the squirrel nut bowl with real nutcrackers.
... the year my brother was born on December 22, and having to stay home. (SAD)
... drawing names for the next year's gift exchange.
... the homemade, matching Grandma pajamas we would put on immediately.
... hoping either Grandpa or Grandma drew your name in the adult exchange=homemade gifts!
... rigging it the years certain grandkids had yet to receive a Grandpa gift.
... eating our stocking candy and trading plain M&M's for peanut, and visa versa.
... that 7,000 sq. foot roll of navy blue wrapping paper with Christmas teddy bear angels on it Grandma had (has?) for years.
... ham gravy made with real Coke.
... the wet, soggy, and cold entryway due to 80 separate shoes.
... the various babies asleep in a heap on Grandma's bed.
... losing pieces of games, playsets, and puzzles because you HAD to open them all right then!
... the line snaking back by the washer & dryer to get your food in the kitchen.
... 14 cars running at the end of the night.
... the Christmas ice cream roll, with warm chocolate sauce.
... egg nog.
... Creme de Menthe on ice.
... the year 45 people could no longer fit in the farmhouse; aka the year Christmas Eve was moved to Zion Lutheran Church's Fellowship Hall (the hall my grandpa practically built; in his late '70s!).
... introducing my husband to This Christmas Eve Event Extraordinaire.
... introducing my daughter to This Christmas Eve Event Extraordinaire.