Here I am, out the other side of a really hairy pre-Christmas weekend, and one that went better than it looked like it was going to, considering the state things were in on Thursday afternoon.  The tree got decorated,

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the groceries got bought, the cookies all baked, and the whole thing would have gone up in flames if I didn’t have three daughters who know how our little corner of the world works, and executed Operation Gingerbread brilliantly. Everyone was arriving at 6, and shortly before that, I was totally in the weeds. Dinner for 25 half done, none of the furniture rearranged, no icing for the cookies… I’d simply run out of time and me to make it all work, and in stepped The Ladies. They were a Christmas party machine. Samantha made the icing, Amanda coloured it with the littles, all while I said things like “Sam – I’m going to need… ” and she’d jump in with “All the forks, Mum, even the ones from the box. I’ll put them on the table.” Or I’d cast about looking wild and say “Meg… if you could…” and there she’d be. “Make the salad? You bet. The apple one?”

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Big hands helped little ones do tasks without being asked, coats were spirited away, glasses of wine appeared in hands as though by magic.  Platters of food were carried to trivets (they even knew to put trivets on the table. It was surreal.) Spills of icing were cheerfully cleaned up with an “I got it Mum!” and the wee ones were supervised, amused and delighted by my darling army of daughters.

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When the time came for singing, instruments were snatched up, and they were charming and talented, and robustly sang for the amusement of Luis, Myrie and the others, and it was all the right songs. (Chris and Kosti did well too. Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer was an especially big hit.)

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I stood there watching them – all three of them, and I sort of couldn’t believe it. All I could think of was the last two decades of Gingerbread parties, parties where I said things like “Please use your gentle touch with the baby” and “Go practice for your music lesson” and “It’s not that hard to make a salad Megan, please don’t give me that face” or “Cookies are not for throwing” or “Samantha, icing goes on cookies, not walls” or “Go help your grandmother you demon” or “Are you people animals? Get a trivet before you put that hot pot on the table.”  “Amanda, you’re not going out with your friends – tonight is the Gingerbread party, I swear do not make me kill you this close to Christmas – I’ve already bought your damn present.”

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All those years. All those corrections, all those reminders… all those times I didn’t kill the bloody lot of them and leave them at the edge of the woods in a shallow grave.

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It all payed off as they waltzed gracefully through the party. At the end of the night, I heard someone say that they didn’t know how I did it, and Amanda said “I know. Mum is a machine.” It made me laugh, because after all these years of doing it FOR them…

This year how I did it WAS them. Thanks Ladies.