We don't do big gatherings in our family. In fact the family is not huge at the best of times, so whenever half a dozen or more get together, then we call it a big gathering. On Christmas day this year we mustered 9.
This is the matriarch: Jane
Jane successfully fed us all with the traditional Christmas Dinner, complete with all the trimmings - and especially her famous gravy! Jane makes the best gravy in the world, and the whole family love it. Roast dinners just wouldn't be the same without it. Talking, of which, here's us at the dinner-table:
(Note the gravy strategically positioned in the centre of the table, in that big white, blue and yellow jug.)
Now to introduce the rest of the family...
Brother Paul, who lives just down the road from us.
Then there's our No.1 daughter, Emma, seen here explaining the finer points of wine-appreciation to her own No.1, Lara
And here's Emma's husband Dave, with their No.2, Holly, having a lesson on pet-care.
Then there's our daughter No.2, Fiona, with her husband Juan Fernando (from Panama). They are the ones who live in France...
Juan's only failing is a rather too pronounced liking for English-style chocolate. Here he is caught in the act of investigating a tin of Cadbury's Heroes...
Getting a good photo of Lara is never easy these days, since she seldom sits still very long:
Holly doesn't move so quickly just yet, though at just under 8 months she is already crawling enthusiastically and looking as if she will be ready to walk any minute now! Nothing under the height of 3 feet is safe any more.
For travelling to and fro, Emma had dressed Holly in this really delightful (and seasonally appropriate) fluffy Reindeer outfit, complete with antlers!
But I really must show you this - Holly's first encounter with a roast parsnip! As you can see, her initial reaction was one of suspicion, but once she discovered that it was edible and moreover tasted sweet and yummy, she ate two of them. With both of her children Emma has used the "Baby-led Weaning" approach, giving them the opportunity to decide when (and how) to start eating proper food, and exposing them at the earliest stage to the type of food that adults eat. Holly was not particularly enamoured of the roast turkey, but she loved the parsnips and the Brussels Sprouts.
For me, this is what Christmas is about these days: being surrounded by the family and watching the joy on the faces of the grandchildren as they open their presents!
Most of our presents for Lara this year were books, because she is very keen on them. Just three-and-a-half, Lara can already read lots of words, and likes nothing better than having a story read to her. Next year's present may have to be a bookshelf...
Talking of books, I want to finish my post today by showing you a brief glimpse of a lovely present that Emma gave me. It is a book (generated online using Blurb) made from text and pictures from my own blog - Mark's Veg Plot!
This book is devoted mainly to a compilation of the photos from my blog that Emma likes best. She must have spent AGES trawling through my Picasa albums, because I have literally thousands of photos these days!
Did you notice that Emma has called the book "...Vol 1"? Allowing room for future additions, no doubt. Thanks, Emma!