This was our year to have the grandchildren for Christmas, and they came like a windstorm and left like a tornado.
Things are normally fairly calm around here, but when all that activity arrives, it is mayhem.
My daughter Anne and her girls arrived first, followed by their dad, Chris. Because they live in New York City, Murfreesboro provides them with different opportunities: eating at favorite restaurants, getting treats at the Reeves-Sain soda shop, and checking out big box chain stores that aren’t easily accessible in the city.
They arrive with seemingly everything they own – car seats, strollers, coats for warm and cool weather, pacifiers, baby bottles – and we arrange bedrooms to accommodate disparate sleep schedules and set up diaper changing areas on each floor.
This year we had to fabricate a toddler bed. This was easily solved with the purchase of “magic bumpers,” portable non-slip foam guardrails that fit under bedding on a regular-sized mattress.
When Anne said she shipped “side rails,” I imagined lengthy pieces of lumber and was surprised when a featherweight package arrived. When I first saw the lightweight, 24-inch foam triangles, I had my doubts, but they kept our toddler secure in a bed that is unusually tall.
Our office was even turned into a nursery, complete with a baby-changing table I found for $25 at a consignment shop.
And even if my husband, Tommy, and I thought we were prepared for little ones, nothing quite steals you up for the constant flurry of activity that accompanies two children younger than 4 years old.
When they arrive the (usually) uncluttered kitchen counter turns into a larger than life food staging area and the relatively barren refrigerator bulges with all manner of organic and dairy “delights.”
Then there are countless trips to the grocery store for bananas and milk. Sometimes, even if Grandma bought something according to specifications it wasn’t the right brand or had a different taste than they were used to. So, we went back for more.
And then there’s the cooking for the adults.
I adore having my children here and love nothing more than preparing their special requests.
I love that they still like what I cook, but Tommy and I are not used to preparing three full-blown meals every single day, seven days a week. We can get on with bananas and cereal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and a salad for dinner, but when company is in town, everyone comes to visit and the number of meals virtually doubles.
And then there are all those dirty pans and dishes. And all those glasses.
At some point it seems like it will never end.
Abruptly, it comes to a screeching halt as they wash their clothes, mail Christmas gifts that won’t fit in their suitcases, and gather everything up.
Tommy drives them to the airport (stuffed so full in the car that I couldn’t go along). I start changing sheets, throwing out food, and taking down Christmas decorations.
I find things they forgot: a hidden pacifier, the slide whistles my granddaughter Jeanne received from Santa Claus, and a lovey toy wedged between the sheets. I packed them for mailing too.
When I try to rest, I think I hear a baby cry … but there is truly only silence there. It’s my brain that was trained to listen for the cry now playing tricks on me.
Tomorrow, the mess will be gone, the patter of feet will be no more, and Tommy and I will have the house all to ourselves.
And we will start counting the days eagerly until we are lucky enough to have them home again.
‘Til next week.