My in-laws came to visit for Thanksgiving, and they brought a big basket filled with chocolate, potato chips, fruit leather, candy and nuts. We were sad to see them go at the end of the holiday, but we are cautiously optimistic that we can return to our normal eating habits and our pants may one day fit again.
While they were here, my father-in-law followed the official Grandparents’ Creed: If sugar isn’t listed as the number one ingredient, it doesn’t belong in a child’s mouth. He fed two-year-old Milo gummy worms for breakfast, Skittles for lunch, and gave him half a dozen Capri Sun juice bags to wash it all down. He also let the child drink coffee. Grandpa laughed when his little grandson tipped back the mug, but the rest of us were not laughing that afternoon when Milo neglected to nap and instead chose to practice his ninja moves while riding the dog backwards off the roof.
Like most cowboys, my husband had to work every day except Turkey Day itself. To pass the time while Jim was at work, I played tour guide and showed my in-laws around the ranch. The route I planned should have taken 5 hours round trip, but since my father-in-law drove, it took 7 hours each way. This is mainly because he took a few liberties, such as letting my small children steer his pickup; diligently hitting every bump in the primitive dirt road; and occasionally stopping just to…actually, it’s been a week since he left and I still have no idea what all the abrupt stops were for.
My father-in-law is a very patient man who was completely unconcerned with matters like the passage of time and possible damage to his vehicle. When we drove up a particularly steep ascent and the rear tires began slipping, sliding and peeling rubber on the loose rocks, I wondered aloud about our driving options.
“Does your four-wheel-drive work?” I asked.
“Yes,” he replied without shifting.
“Okay,” I said. “Just checking.”
At one point when the truck was at a standstill because my two-year-old steered it into the leafy embrace of a small tree, I quietly stepped out of the cab, picked up a rock and bashed my brains out. Nobody even noticed, and it was nice to have some peace and quiet.
Back at home, the family gathered in our house each day for meals and visiting, then my in-laws retired to their camp trailer each night. Our house is tiny, so they thoughtfully brought their own sleeping accommodations. They didn’t complain about traipsing through the darkness to their room on wheels each night, and we didn’t tell them when we heard a mountain lion about 50 feet away. We didn’t want to cause them to worry, because we are considerate hosts like that. Not only do we make our guests sleep in the driveway, we don’t even give them a lantern so they can see what carnivorous, nocturnal dangers are lurking in the shadows. No sense in worrying about something that is going to hurt really bad anyway.
We all survived the wild animals and – even more amazing – a week of cramped quarters with close relatives. The kids opened early Christmas presents, I cooked a frightening amount of food, my mother-in-law washed an impressive amount of dishes, and we all ate too much desert. It was a fun break from daily life. Now that our holiday company is gone, we have to go back to doing normal, everyday things like drinking water and not eating cheesecake for breakfast.
We got a family photo thanks to my trusty tripod. L-R: Milo, Jim, myself, Beverly (my mother-in-law), Grace, and Jim (my father-in-law).