Friday, November 28, 2008

Advice for the Family Holidays--thursday thougths #15

(Tabor really wanted to decorate the tree with her lovely gold and red globes and red glitter birds from last year...but the traditional 'safe' ornaments were the necessity of the day. Someday, Tabor will get a grown-up tree.)

If you are looking forward to having the family visit and you have become accustomed to the retirement lifestyle for some time I have some helpful ideas for you:

1. Once you are retired you become blase about having time to yourself and having quiet afternoons and having more than 3 minutes to complete a task and more than 1 minute to complete a thought. You must accept the fact that this is a ridiculous and abnormal lifestyle in the real world.

2. I have a more normal scenario. Start the water in the microwave for a well-deserved cup of tea and the second you finish pressing the last button, run to the other end of the kitchen to catch the toddler before she falls into the plants by the far window, and as you navigate this route, trip over the dog's water bowl (which you forgot was there because you don't have a dog), and finally, as you try to prevent yourself from doing the splits, grab the tablecloth so that the bowls of salsa can topple to the floor just missing the little dog who is anticipating another "food fall" of the day.

3. Another typical event: If you roast a 20 pound turkey and hubby volunteers to cut everything up at the end of the meal so that you can have slices for freezing, sandwiches, etc., and if you notice that it seems to be taking him more than an hour to complete this task, you need to interrupt the activity immediately. If you don't, fatigue is going to win over and he is going to carve with one hand and push the platter across the counter with the other resulting in a free fall of your tall containers of olive oil and canola oil on the very same counter and as they crash to the floor...well you know the rest, just read #2.

4. If you notice a strange expression on a small dog's face or a small child's face this means you need to provide access to the outside for the dog and access to the guest bathroom for the toddler ASAP.

5. You will become something of a scatological expert over the visit as parents will inquire about the ease of delivery, consistency, and color of the toddler's product. The pet owner just wants to know if the dog did both #1 and #2 when he/she got outside.

6. Breakfast works for the old folks, the younger ones do not get up until 11:00 as there was probably 9 hours of football well into the evening of the day before. If, like me, you are not crazy about football, do not expect this time to catch up on your are toddler watching. Toddler watching involves very little sitting time, you will burn off all the calories from any substantial meals recently eaten.

7. You will notice that educational toys are used very differently based on the gender of the child. The three and a half year old male will bang and bang on the buttons frequently while totally ignoring the directions given by the talking toy while he tries to make as much noise as possible. The 14-month-old female will hit the button for the cat when the machine says 'cat' and then giggle. (You will agree that this gender relationship to following directions and being goal-oriented continues in later life.)

8. Remember the board games that you used to play with the older kids over the holidays? Well, you can still do that if you are still awake with a functioning brain after the toddlers are finally asleep at 9:00 P.M. No one at our house had reached that goal.

9. If you decided to make a family activity of decorating the Christmas tree while all the loved ones are around, as I in a moment of insanity decided to do, be prepared for more undecorating than decorating.

10. And finally, accept the fact that not everyone will be happy at the end of the day.

Post Script: While it may sound like I did most of the work (and perhaps I did) I loved the entire exhausting weekend and each moment will be my treasured memory in years to come.

Post Post Script: Stock up on paper towels, napkins, toilet paper and will need a LOT!


  1. I smile. I remember all you shared so well. Nice to have 3 in college. Hey, one even brought me a plate of food. My two little ones are now past the toddler stage. It gets better. I promise.

  2. OK, got it, cancel Christmas. lol I love my retired lifestyle and needed this advice.

    I have three grandsons for 3 nights. Everytime Dave put out a decoration I'd say NO, not with a one year old around. ;)

    Decor is high up.
    Tabor notes saved.
    Hide Nikki.
    I'm leaving, check.

    That dog looks like my Nikki. A Maltese?

  3. I know what I am missing!! I need a few toddlers to run around after - so I can lose those pounds!!

  4. a full holiday weekend with a family i imagine you will miss on monday! you are right about those memories. one day when everyone is older and the tree is all "grown up," you will sit around remembering some of these kinds of moments with great nostalgia. then Xman and his wife will have a baby, and it will start all over!

  5. Since I was the youngest, I stayed with my Mom the longest. When the holiday would come and our home was invaded by family with little ones it was like a hurricane. But, a nice hurricane. After they left we just sat around and smiled and it was like "What the heck was that?"

  6. I can relate to all of this but it has been ome time. When it's all over you will set down with your tea and say "Boy, didn't we have fun!"

  7. Anonymous10:42 AM

    Is this what I have to look forward to? It sounds hilarious as your life but not sure I could handle that much excitement.

    I think retirement is the real world and the rest of the world just hasn't figured it out yet.

    Joe and I are both excited about the thought of Bryce spending the night one day soon. Our fantasy is to take him camping.

  8. Exhausting, exhilarating, laborious, loving, delightful, joyous, fatiguing, humorous, enchanting....all in one.


    Loved this post! You said it all so well.

  9. It all sounds quite wonderful, Tabor, and it's lovely to know that you appreciate how wonderful it is.

    This kind of scenario is what many of us thought an over-60 life might be like, but I know very few people whose lives now reflect your reality.



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