The tide of family has washed through: this year son and grandson, daughter, daughter in law and her mother over from Canada. We have eaten turkey and all the trimmings, truly delicious and a tribute to the happy life the bird has lived, wandering our friends' orchard full of organic food. We have eaten home made bread and cold turkey and cold lamb, our pickles and cheese by the ton, Welsh cheese from our local deli. We have made some small inroads into the Christmas cake.
This afternoon four year old grandson was helping to hand round cups of tea and slices of cake. He looked at the cake and said "Grandma, I only like the icing."
"Well," I said, "that's amazing because I only like the cake so we can share." I took the icing off and gave it to him on a plate and put the cake on a plate for me.
A huge smile cracked his face and he put his hand gently on my arm like a little old man. "You know what that means, Grandma? It means you and me are the perfect combination" and he sat up on the worktop swinging his legs and eating icing.
I think FIL has enjoyed the extra company, retreating every now and then to his room where the television is loud enough and there are no complicated three way conversations going on. Grandson stayed last night and went in to say goodnight to his great grandfather. He went straight up and gave him a kiss and a huge hug. Perhaps it is the additional vulnerability that goes with his current physical frailty and his bereavement, but FIL is more visibly moved these days and I could see his lip quiver.
"I thought he might be frightened of an old bugger like me," he said to me as S went up to bed. "But he isn't, is he? He's a cracker."
So it has all been good. In a couple of days I shall drive down to Devon to see my parents and my sister and family and next week elder daughter and younger grandson are coming to stay. We have missed younger son and his wife who, as newly qualified doctors, have been working over Christmas, but I did manage a flying visit down to them too. So life has been full of family and there is lots more still to come.
But just now the house has the quiet which follows departure. Ian and FIL are watching the television in the other room. The cat is asleep in the other armchair. The woodburner is glowing and there is a glass of white wine at my side.
Do other people have this? The relish that attaches to the moments of quiet? I love the company with all my heart but I love these pauses too, the moments when the wave pulls back, the tide goes out, the only noise is the crack and flicker of the fire.