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We had a full house over Christmas. For most of the year we are down to three – our youngest son, John, and us. Some detailed planning was required when we discovered that there would be eleven of us in the house for six nights: all five children, two daughters-in-law, two grandchildren, and ourselves.

(Children and grandchildren opening presents!)

Children and grandchildren opening presents!

We have adapted our home as our family has grown. It started off as a standard four-bed detached on a fairly modern housing development. Over time we have added a ground floor extension, split a long narrow bedroom into two, and converted part of the garage into another bedroom. For the mathematicians among you that equates to six bedrooms (sort of) but with three couples and only two double beds James and Katy had to sleep on the futon in the back room: the room I have to pass through to reach my office/man cave. Michael had to share a room with his four-year old son, and Beth who usually has the other double (it is in her bedroom) was relegated to an airbed in the smallest bedroom. Hopefully James and Katy have now recovered from trying to sleep on an old futon for six nights.

Bangers and mash on Christmas Eve. James and Katy slept in the room behind the dining room

Bangers and mash on Christmas Eve. James and Katy slept in the room behind the dining room

Somehow we managed although it felt as if we were running a small hotel at times (Fawlty Towers?). In a rare moment of genius before the family arrived I changed most of the bulbs in the house to LEDs running at between six and nine watts per bulb. This helped keep my blood pressure at a reasonable level as I found myself on a mission to switch off lights left on in empty rooms and hallways. Apparently no one under forty years of age knows how to operate light switches these days, once the lights have been turned on. In turning off the lights I realised how like my father I was becoming. He would also have felt the pressure of so many humans in such a confined space. There were other petty annoyances that Dad would have had difficulty coping with: for instance kitchen cupboards left open, and half-drunk glasses of water randomly deposited all over the house. Kids, I did my best, but look out next time I visit your homes!

Blessed! Five children, two daughters-in-law and two grandchildren (one not cooperating and hence missing from photograph)

Blessed! Five children, two daughters-in-law and two grandchildren (one missing from photograph)

But it was a blessing to be together as a family, and to share in Christmas together. Quite how we all made church by 10:30 on Christmas morning I still don’t know. We managed to take some family walks, and even had a picnic beneath an overflowing reservoir across the border in Wales.

Four of Our Crazy Kids!

Four of Our Crazy Kids!

Family and a home bursting at the seams this Christmas reminds me of two things. One is the need to become more like my Heavenly Father who provided an example through Jesus His Son. The other is the importance of family – and by family I mean church family as much as I mean relatives.

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2 NLT.)

The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12 NLT – but read the whole chapter.)