The door is flung open to welcome the aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents gathered on this special day to celebrate together
the house already smells delicious as the turkey, complete with its chestnut stuffing roasts quietly in the oven;
coats are shed, "My how you've grown"
"Sit here you'll be more comfortable"
"Come closer to the fire"
POP goes the first champagne cork, and in come platters of warm petit fours or savory pastries to keep
tall crystal glasses filled with bubbles, sparkling apple juice for the little ones, glasses raised to toast this happy family occasion, and before the meal is ready there is time to exchange presents.
Gift tags get muddled, then sorted and there is as much joy in the giving as the receiving, and all the while the champagne is kept topped up, there is no rush, a couple of hours go by
"A table!" .. to the table, come and sit by me ..... who wants to sit near the fire? "
Then "aaah" as the platter of foie gras is brought in and the first wine glass filled with a sweet and fruity Sauternes
As the first course is enjoyed , discussion is noisy and happy, the conversation turning around food ... what to eat ... where to purchase .... how to prepare ....
Plates whipped way and replaced with fresh platters then appear the oysters, chunks of lemon, little bowls of rock salt, a different bread and the second glass is filled with a dry white wine, a Chablis maybe
A pause may be in order, possibly even a trou normand (a tiny glass of apple liqueur) then on to the main course
The turkey, with chestnuts and vegetables and stuffing and more wine. Here the girls often prefer to stick with their white wine while the men are ready for something with a little more body and move onto a fine Bordeaux,
This course marks a change of pace, more discussion of cooking techniques, the room is warm, the children listen to the adult conversation and join in or not
a little pause while plates are cleared, room made in the kitchen, bread replenished on the table
an uncle tells jokes, a cousin moves on to politics
the cheese platter is brought in .... sighs around the table "Oh I couldn't possibly .... my that Brie looks good ... have you tasted this roquefort ......" more discussion, red wine to accompany the cheese
they have been at the table for almost four hours by now, the youngest a little restless come and go, but they all still smile when the dessert is served La Buche de Noel, home made or bought from the local patissier. Thin slices are served, glasses topped up and eyes wander back to the sitting room, the prospect of a coffee in front of the fire most welcome
The sudden realization that it is already dark outside "what a shame, a walk would have done us good .... tomorrow I won't eat a thing ....."
the table is cleared, a hand is given to tidy the kitchen and make the coffee and by the time they all have sat and talked for a while, it is time to go home, "Take care, the roads may be icy...", the door closes behind them, the house still full of their happy noise and laughter ..
and from behind her back, a little voice speaks out "what are we having for supper?!"