Sometimes the final part of the party prep is the hardest. We were up at nine to go to Costco for the chicken wings and more mini egg-rolls. From there we came home, James started the gravy for the meatballs and then put them in the crock pot to get warm (they were straight from the freezer). Then he went off to the hobby shop for about an hour since he won't get to go next week due to work. I spent the two hours he was away vacuuming, putting up the stuff on the coffee table, and putting the dining room table in place (we move it back so you can get more handily into the kitchen with a lot of people milling around).
Once James got home we had to get the "plastic silverware," plates and cups down from the closet, get down the serving plates and bowls, and then start warming up the empanadas, chicken wings, and egg rolls, plus dump the little smokies in barbecue sauce in the little crock pot and thaw the meat-and-cheese spirals.
We were actually finished before the first guest arrived! Sue was then treated to the obligatory "barking of the dog," and next thing we knew the guests were coming thick and fast.
We had the usual swell time: lots of talking, munching, gift swapping, the usual football game on the television, and to add to the tumult, thunder followed by rain. Alice, Sue, Phyllis, Aubrey, and Isabel went downstairs to play The Big Bang Theory game and Jessie and her friend went in the spare room to watch a movie (Aubrey and Isabel later joined them after the game was over). The Butlers had a previous engagement, but did stop over for a while on the way there, so we had eighteen up and down at one point.
The best news of the evening came from Juanita and David—they are engaged! Juanita has been a widow for over ten years, so we're thrilled that she's got a new, nice guy in her life. And David even likes this crazy bunch, so that's always positive.
The crowd was finally reduced to a few telling "stupid pet stories" and "what we used to do when we were young and stupid" tales before the last guest left for home. We got most of the disposables thrown out, I got the spare room set to rights and the chocolate spots off the carpet (LOL), and most of the kitchen table cleared off before we sat, exhausted, at the computer and talked to Jen and Emma for a while.
And then I went around the house and pulled all the timers for the Christmas lights (except the tree; it can stay lighted as long as it's up), and put the hospitality candles in place of the candoliers in the front window. Christmas is officially over.
Now all that remains is to take it down. Zowee...