Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What are you thankful for?

We had the definition of a full-house last week, with air mattresses scattered around the house and the place busting at the seams.  It's really the only time I look at my house and consider it an ill-advised purchase.  It doesn't truly adapt well to a larger population.  The families who came before us never evolved beyond three in residence...and there is a reason for that.  For several days we had eight.  From the age of 1 to 75, and all over the map on schedules.

For the first time ever Hubby and I gladly gave up our bedroom to guests.  We thought it was the best move (and still do) for my niece and her 1 and 4 year old to take our larger master bedroom.  She would have our comfortable queen bed, Little Man A (4) would have an air mattress on floor, and Baby Brother Z (1) would have a porta-crib.  All fit in the one room and you could actually navigate around them...sort of.  This put Mom and Uncle in the guest bedroom, Brother in Law on an air mattress in our office/3rd bedroom.  And relegated Hubby and I to the living room.

Payback is a bitch, they say.

That is, after all the years we have put overflow guests in the living room on the fold-out couch came back to bite us big time.  That hide-a-bed is about as non functional as it could be.  We tried to alleviate the tired mattress situation with an airbed on top, but this was a failure as well.  Combine that with the fact that we essentially had no "retreat" space was difficult.

Worse than that, this left my niece - our guest - with a no-win situation with restless kids in her room 24 hours a day and no retreat of her own.  She might have had a comfy mattress, but I think she may have had less sleep than anyone.

Don't get me wrong.  Having a big family dinner on Thanksgiving was fabulous.  Having many of the people we love in one place was equally great.  But trying to be hostess with the mostest (who ever came up with that stupid saying?), keep all the guests happy or at least sane, keep the house somewhat in order so septogenarians didn't trip on kid toys and kids weren't trodden on by their elders, feed people, schedule bathroom time with a potty-training child and impatient needy adults, exercise the kids to burn off some excess energy, juggle multiple cars in driveway, pickup/dropoff at train stations for metropolitan visitors, accommodate naps/sleep patterns for all....yeah...it just doesn't work. 

If it weren't for my overabundance of caring what other people think and need, I'd be a lot healthier mentally and let's face it this blog would have a different title.  I cringed at the hard time my niece was having keeping the kids in tow in a strange environment and knowing she wasn't getting the rest and relaxation she needed, I winced when I saw my hubby walking with a hitch because of the bad bed situation, a little twitching of muscles around the eye occurred as I thought about how to keep the house at an equalized temperature for the comfort of all. 

As everyone left (some earlier than planned), they all thanked us for a lovely time, a wonderful meal, our kindness and hospitality.  As the numbers dwindled our house began to expand again and my nerves settled. I most likely have projected more pain into the weekend on behalf of my guests than they felt (I hope), and by next year's Christmas - our next possible big hosting event - I may have some better ideas on how to manage it.

But for now, I'll just say....

I'm thankful for my crazy hob-goblin family.
I'm thankful for money in the bank, food on the table, and health in our bodies.
I'm thankful so many people I love made the effort to join us for a day (or a week)
I'm thankful they all got back home again safely.
And, I guess right now, most of all I'm thankful Thanksgiving is over. 


Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I am with you on not liking being crowded.

The last kid hasn't left home yet, and I have a plan in place for when they all do. We have 5 bedrooms and I'm going to convert each of the other 4 bedrooms into a "family" room--complete with bunk beds for the kids and a bigger bed for mom and dad. I think it's much more enjoyable to be "home for the holidays" when you still have some private, family space.

I also plan on having an RV, so that when I visit my grown kids for any length of time we will still be able to take a break from one another.

Kate Hanley said...

I hear you. Luckily, our numbers dwindled before the big day but I was going to have 18 for dinner and while I find my house quite big, I'd be hard pressed to sit 18 people down for dinner. As for being Thankful, I'm thankful everyone left on Friday morning giving me a glorious weekend alone with my family!

mrwriteon said...

You're a braver person than I am, Miss Wendy. And probably more generous. I revel in keeping our king size for us.

I very much like your prayer of gratitude.

Susan said...

I think you planned the best you could and did really well. It is so hard for mom's with little kids - I have certainly been in the position your niece was in.

My husband keeps syaing we are going to get a little cottage when the kids are gone - but I picture holidays like yours and I always tell him we will have a house big enough for everyone to come home and bring their family when they have one!