We started the tradition of a meal at my house followed by bowling a couple years ago with my mom's side of the family after my g-rents moved into an apartment and we couldn't all fit there. Daniel and I were hurriedly getting ready for the second annual Christmas brunch for 18 (EIGHTEEN) people. It was a few days before Christmas and I had the flu. The achy, fevery, sweaty, miserable flu. So on top of feeling like I'd been hit by a baseball bat while sitting in a sauna, these events followed...
We got up at about 6AM to work... everyone was scheduled to arrive around 11am. All was going okay... Daniel started to make a pot of coffee and when he opened the lid we realized we hadn't made coffee since LAST Christmas brunch and it was filled with mold. He made a valiant attempt to save the coffee pot and then we gave up and called in a Starbucks coffee traveler ($13... enough coffee for 12 people. Lifesaver). When Daniel went to pick up the coffee, he was wearing flip flops because it was 70 degrees outside. He slammed his big toe into the concrete bumper outside the store, ripped the front of his toe off and started bleeding like a stuck pig. He went to the bathroom to try to mend himself and made it home without bleeding out. This turned out to be a problem when he tried to bowl... he bled through his bowling sock and didn't even attempt to wear a shoe. But, so far, so... good?
My parents, bro and sis were supposed to get into town about two hours before everyone because they were bringing the main course (good ol' honey baked ham) all the desserts and moral support and extra hands because of my illness. But they got stuck in traffic for five and a half hours coming from Dallas and didn't arrive until 12:30pm. In the meantime, aunts, uncles, cousins, boyfriends, spouses, grandparents... everyone has arrived with their meal contributions. In 2006, we asked my grandma to bring biscuits because she lives across town and could keep them warm... but she brought them uncooked. And I only have one rack in my oven and had 4 other things to cook and keep warm. So in 2007, she arrived with 5 dozen cooked biscuits. The big Grands kinds that you pull apart and the melt in your mouth. Mmmmm.... those will come in handy later.
It wouldn't have been such a big deal that my mom was late except when she got there and we got the ham out of the car.... she didn't bring the ham. She brought the BONE of the ham because she had already cut all the meat off and put it in a nice bag to bring with her. The bag was still in her fridge. No main course. But 60 biscuits and loads of other stuff.
Still... we are laughing and it's just a big joke that mom is "pretty but not too bright". And everyone starts going through the line. The buffet table is set up in the middle of my kitchen (NOTE: the slab in the front of my house is poured on a slope) because we didn't have anywhere else to put it and also have seating for 18 people. It's filled with mini quiches, an empty plate "in honor of ham", fruit salad, bowls of snacky desserts in my best crystal serving dishes, lil smokies, two dozen of the five dozen biscuits, cream cheese dip, green beans, a pie, plates, silverware, napkins, etc.
Halfway through everyone serving themselves, I realized I forgot to put out the green salad. So we made a spot for it and I put it out to toss with the dressing.... and the table shifts. And everyone stops for a split second to look at the shift and then CRASH. The whole right side of the table collapses and all of the food and dishes and biscuits and crystal smash to the floor and SLIDE into the living room. My Tiffany's crystal candy dish shattered, bowls break, quiches mix with salad and glass, fruit salad juice spills all over the floor... only the individually wrapped candies and the three dozen biscuits that hadn't yet made it to the table survived.
I threw down the salad servers, burst into tears and took a mental snapshot of Daniel's, Ben's and my dad's faces as my mom took me to my room to calm me down. After a couple very brief minutes of consoling and attempting to laugh about this, I walked out to faces red with laughter and eyes wide with anticipation of my reaction. I just laughed and said this was one of those moments that was already funny even though it was also miserable at the time.
That year, for my Christmas present from my dad, I got 3 Nambe serving dishes (because those don't break) and a Waterford platter to replace my shattered candy dish. And this year, we put the buffet table in the back of the dining room and just worked around it. After all, seating for 18 doesn't matter if all you end up eating for Christmas brunch is nice, warm Grandy's biscuits.