Once I got over the culture shock of being surrounded by so many children, aged 8 weeks to 11 years, it was great fun. I sat on the floor and played with an adorable 16-month-old girl. She had wisps of dark-gold silky hair floating around her face, clear blue eyes, and an irresistible little pot belly. She was mostly interested in digging around in the toy storage bins, pulling out every object she could find and then leaving them on the floor. When she tired of that, she would toddle over to the snack area and find a gingerbread cookie to suck on until the edges were reduced to mush. When it was nice and squishy she would then very hospitably offer it to a grown-up.
When I arrived at the party, it was already 2 hours past this toddler's usual bedtime, and she was going strong. Can you believe that this kid made it all the way to midnight with barely a whimper, a yawn, or an eye-rub? She was wide awake and making the rounds in her jammies all the way to the final count-down. A little glassy-eyed, but still. So impressive! To put this in context, our friends' son, then aged 3 years, only held out until 11:45 pm last year, before passing out on the floor with his head on his mother's lap.
Later on in the evening, I had a chat with the oldest kid, an 11-year-old girl. We ended up sitting next to each other, and she started merrily chatting away. At one point I looked away from her to catch a mental breath, and thought to myself "Gee, she's very nice, but she sure does talk a lot!" When I turned back to face her, she looked me straight in the eye and said "I talk a lot." You know that expresion "it was like she read my mind"? I have never experienced it quite so literally. I laughed nervously. Then I thought to myself "Is she psychic?" and half expected her to answer me "Yes, in fact I'm reading your thoughts right now".
She didn't. She did keep chatting until I found a reason to relocate. As I said, she was very sweet, but there is only so much kid-intensity I can handle, not being used to it.
A highlight of the evening was the Zimtsterne. "What the hey?" you may ask. Zimtsterne are traditional Christmas cookies which are naturally gluten-free. Let me tell you, they are mightily delicious, kind of half-marzipan-half-meringue chewy delights. My friend, our hostess, made extra ones this year so that I could take a batch home with me. Isn't that so incredibly thoughtful? I have finally gotten to the point where I do not actively sulk every time there are wheaty foods I can't participate in, but it was really nice to be able to partake of some Christmas sweets with everyone else.
A good time was had by all. The evening culminated with all the kiddies except the 11-year-old running around in their incredibly cute pyjamas, blowing noise-makers and cheering in 2012. Ken and I celebrated having officially survived 2011, something we sincerely thought might not be in the cards. I have a new calendar up, and it gives me a good feeling every time I see it and am reminded that we have a fresh start. Happy New Year, everyone!