| ... a tree filled with home-made|
decorations from years past ...
Divide and conquer is the strategy.
The parents stay upstairs.
The children go downstairs to play with lego and Thomas the Train toys.
Other children watch a movie – Polar Express this year. “We have already seen this movie,” said one little family. “Then you can play with toys.” “No. We watched it in French. Now we want to watch it in English.”
Catherine had small plastic cups for the children to fill with candy: skittles, smarties, sour soothers, red liquorice, and jelly strips. “Candy is good for you?”, one little boy asked. “Of course. Now fill up and watch the movie.”
Thomas and I were on duty. The door between the upstairs and downstairs had to be kept closed so that the noise from upstairs didn’t bother us downstairs. Occasionally some little boy would go right up to the movie screen and get nose to nose with it so that the other children couldn’t see the frame.
Some of them needed water – since continuous fill-ups on the candy cups created a deep thirst in some. It was a sugar extravaganza. Hebe was downstairs with us, keeping her eye on her electronic screen and at the same time watching along with the movie. At one point I heard her say, “What does transform mean?” for she had heard it on the movie. Before I could get my answer ready one of the other kids watching had delivered the answer to her.
Upstairs there was a talk and then a dessert table. If the kids wanted dessert, they had to go upstairs and stay upstairs until it was finished. Then they could come back downstairs. I didn’t want to mix the sugar upstairs with the sugar downstairs.
A lovely time was had by all. Well, mostly by all. One woman noticed that her slippers were missing. Then she saw them on the feet of another woman. “That woman is going to take my slippers home. I am going to stop her."
I didn’t think this was going to go over well. Catherine intervened, explaining to the owner of the slippers, “I think we have a cultural difference here. In that woman’s culture, having slippers at your door for the guests is what is expected. She thinks I have provided those slippers for my guests. She is not going to take them home.”
Catherine was right. The slippers were left behind.