We've done this long enough that the party follows a somewhat familiar pattern: 7:00 we stand waiting breathlessly for the guests to arrive, slightly panicked that maybe no one is coming. By 7:15 the first guests arrive and then a steady stream until the house is packed around 9:30. We usually cap out at about 45 people and then they start to drift off, some going home early, others to competing Christmas parties (darn that Khaki Voss who always throws her party the same night as mine! She is one of those incredibly nice people who also happens to do everything just a little better than everyone else and I'm sure she has a lot better food at her party than we do....) but anyhoo the party always finishes off with ten or so lingerers and Jeff and our good buddy Dan get the guitars out and sing and play and things wrap up around 1:00 or 1:30.
This year things went as expected. The only change we made was that I added a new convenient feature out front. I shoveled a spot at the curb and leading up the front walk for the ladies in heels and then, thinking it would be nice to make sure no one blocked the cleared spot I set up two sawhorses in the street with signs that said "Bag Drop" on them. The golfers in the group got it, pulled up and let their "bags" out then went to park. I'm thinking of patenting the idea.
The next morning we always have fun doing post-party debrief, sharing conversations and deciding things like who said stuff they shouldn't have and who wore the most revealing dress. This year (as usual) that would be me and me. The kids chime in and tell us funny things they saw and heard too as they are the official coat-takers and hostess-gift keepers. As Lilly said, "By the end of the night when the grownups came to get their coats they were all standing really close and talking loud."
Over burgers yesterday I even got to hear a story of a past party that I had never heard before. We were talking about party number five in 2003, the last time we invited children. We did that for several years until it got rather "Lord of the Flies"-like and when I went up to bed after that party I found Atticus (who was ten at the time) asleep in the hallway lying with his face in a pile of crushed Goldfish crackers not unlike Al Pacino in Scarface. I just checked my notes--we had 54 adults and 62 kids that year.
We were laughing about all that when Grace said, "Lilly, that's the year you hid in the bathroom and we couldn't find you."
"What?" I asked. This was news to me. We had had babysitters that year to help wrangle the kids so I guess I had missed the parallel kids' party.
"We couldn't figure out why that door was locked for so long," Atticus recalled.
"But why did you hide in the cupboard?" Grace asked.
"I was afraid mom might find the key and open the door and grownups would see me in my underwear. So I crawled in the cabinet."
I like to believe that these big parties with their mishaps and their funny stories that live on for years are as much fun for my kids as they are for us. I can think of no better way to usher in the Christmas week than with a house full of the parents of your friends who make up your world--adults you've known your whole life--all laughing and telling stories and just enjoying each other.
I hope your Christmas and holiday season is also full of love, and laughter, and noise and may you too have your own share of stories of locked bathrooms and crushed Goldfish crackers.