The Family Christmas Eve Party. December 24, 2003
What do I love most about this time of year? Is it the holiday itself or the two weeks I have off from school? I'll answer my own question, It is definitely the two weeks I have away from school. Mind you, I have a great group of sixth graders, but by December we're all in need of time away from each other.
In today's digital family gathering we're going back in time with the help of the Ghost of Christmas Past to Christmas Eve 2003. We find ourselves in Pleasant Grove, Utah - more precisely, we are in the Belnap living room. The room is full of people talking at once. Nobody is listening to anything anyone is saying. It is the trademark of a Williamson family gathering. We feel instantly at home.
Ten year old Brock Bodily walked by holding young Amara Belnap, the family's newest arrival. Brock was growing into his two front teeth. Amara was perfectly satisfied with the attention given to all new arrivals but secretly feared being dropped. She sensed quivering in young Brock's stringy muscles.
It was Grandma Luella Williamson's turn to pay homage to young Amara. Tiernan Belnap, a former recipient of everyone's attention until Amara's birth, moved in for the photo. If a bit of respect for a former child star wasn't given freely, she took it.
Grandma Luella looked a bit tipsy. Was it the camera's shutter capturing her in mid blink, or perhaps the tablespoon or two or three of NyQuil taken to get her through most family gatherings? Her holiday colds were as predictable as the winter snow.
Kevin Williamson had the honors of holding Amara next. No one asked if he wanted to hold Amara. She was just thrust into his arms. His look is one of concern, fear, and mistrust.
Kevin was meticulous about his appearance. The hours spent grooming for the family party could be for naught if Amara erupted over his jacket and shirt. The sweat forming on his forehead gave his true feelings away.
Ashley DelGrosso quickly assessed the situation, saw Kevin's predicament, and came to her uncle's rescue. Besides, she held the next number to hold, kiss, and cuddle the new arrival.
Amara was still indifferent, but comfortable with her role as Iuvenes Regina. She seemed to sense that one day her subjects would abandon her for the next new arrival. But until that day, she would enjoy the family's doting homage.
It was nearly Amara's bedtime. She made one last round around the room before retiring to her chamber. Kim is concentrating.
Tiernan and Tait found the black olives.
Williamsons have an addiction to black olives. Just the sound and smell of a can being opened draws us like a pack of hyenas to fresh kill on the African Serengeti. Rarely do the olives make it to the serving dish. They are inhaled in transit from the kitchen counter to the table.
Brock and Caden (Lisa's eldest) prepare to be annoying. In their defense, they sat nicely for longer than anyone expected.
Grandma Luella is photographed with those not grazing at the buffet. Getting Williamsons away from food, especially free food at an all you can eat holiday buffet, requires something more pressing than "please come sit and have your picture taken with Grandma". Thankfully, Ashley, Autumn, Jilane, and Afton put their plates down out of respect to their matriarch and responded to my invitation.
This photograph, taken by a team of nature photographers from the National Geographic Society, shows the Williamson family grazing at the local watering hole and holiday feast, completely unaware of anything around them. There is one exception. Look closely at Lisa's face.
Lisa's aura darkens during these moods. Mysteriously, the camera caught the sinister halo emanating and pulsing behind her.
Forest (Kim's eldest) was the opening act for the evening's entertainment leading up to Santa's arrival. Forest is an excellent breakdancer. His has some awesome moves, when done on a hard surface. Sadly, Forest suffered second degree carpet burns a quarter of the way through the performance and had to surrender the floor to the 'opening of the box' game.
Kevin did a bit of filming at the end of the 'opening of the box' game.
Just then we heard a knock at the door followed by a robust "Ho Ho Ho."
"Who could it be?" an anonymous mother exclaimed. "Could it be Santa?"
The house groaned as the weight of a couple dozen well fed Williamson's shifted from the far side of the room to the front door.
Abrea DelGrosso asked Santa for a remote controlled buffalo and a fly swatter.
Draker (Lisa's second) asked Santa for a Unicorn that pooped rainbows.
"I don't understand what you're saying," Santa replied.
"OK, I want to be Batman," Draker responded impatiently. Santa was still confused.
"How about a nice fire engine?"
"Stupid Santa," Draker muttered as he scooted down and found his way to the buffet in search for a dozen or so black olives.
The family watched The Peanuts Christmas Special while they waited for Tait to finish his entire wish list. He had it edited into chapters and broken down into electrical and nonelectrical sections.
Aidia (Lisa's youngest) asked Santa for a jar of pickles, a live penguin, and a dancing polar bear. She also wanted him to change her Barbie's hair from ginger to blonde.
Averie DelGrosso asked Santa for peace on Earth, a gumball machine filled with avocados, and a box of Stove Top dressing.
Brock was too taken by Santa's eyes to ask for anything. "He looks like Chaz," he replied when asked why he just sat there staring at Santa.
Caden was just about to plead his case on the question of whether or not he was a good boy for the whole year when he heard a sound from under Santa, followed by the smell of something distinctly non-Christmas.
Autumn waited patiently for the air to clear before taking her spot on Santa's knee and presenting her letter in person.
"What would you like for Christmas young man," Santa asked Brayden Bodily. Brayden thought long and hard before replying.
"I have one wish Santa. I don't want to crack under pressure any more on the basketball court. I need to prove to my uncle that I'm the real deal!"
A tear came to Santa's eye. "I'm sorry Brayden, there are some things even out of my power to grant."
Jilane Williamson Bodily was photographed kissing Santa Claus.
"Mommy's Kissing Santa Clause," exclaimed young Brooklyn as Santa recoiled at the horror of it all.
Kim, Lisa, and Kevin were photographed waiting their turns on Santa's lap.
Shortly thereafter the party wound down. Everyone's sugar highs crashed and drowsiness set in.
It was time to call it a night.
And so ended the memorable Christmas Eve party of 2003.