When I was growing up, there were large family parties at my paternal Grandparents house. I remember them vividly because they were all about having fun, fun, and more fun. Those parties are firmly planted in the deep recesses of my mind - childhood memories!
For instance, Christmas Eve: Imagine several long tables covered with festive tablecloths. As the families started to arrive, my Grandmother was already putting hot foods on the table. There were so many courses, that I do not remember them all. I just remember tasting very delicious foods, and the aromas...I will never forget. Homemade food from start to finish goes without saying is the best kind of food. And my Grandmother was an outstanding home chef. Of course, she had some help. I remember my Mother and a couple of my Aunts arriving early in the morning to help prepare for the evening events. However, my Grandmother was the one who started cooking and baking days before, decorated the tree, bought and wrapped presents, and created an atmosphere of welcome and love.
Love was shown in my family by making sure everyone had more than enough to eat. This was measured by mounds of hot steamy food on their plate. Then there was the squeezing of your face by loving Aunts, who would tell you how pretty or handsome you are. They had no idea that it hurt, so the best thing to do was avoid the hands attached to the Aunt(s) who would do this to me (and my siblings and cousins).
Once dinner was over, fruit was served, and friends came to call. Music played, everyone danced at some point in the night. There was much singing and lots of laughter. When it was close to midnight, my Grandmother would tell all the kids to hide in the spare room so Santa would come to the house. Firm believers that we were, we raced into the room, closed the door, and turned off the lights. That's when all havoc broke loose. We were screaming - laughing with glee just knowing Santa was coming. Never did we think to open the door a crack and take a peek. When it came to Santa, we believed and behaved. The laughter and giggles of kids in a dark room waiting for the big guy still makes me smile. I am so glad I have that memory.
The door was then opened by my Grandmother, she told us Santa was there, and under the tree were countless presents. The level of excitement was off the charts! I remember some of the adults giving out the presents, and I remember looking at my Grandmothers' face - smiling.