Never a dull moment at family gatherings
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
It’s always so great to have a long weekend to look forward to. The kids will come home and we’ll laugh and talk together over long family meals, swim at the beach, enjoy a board game or two, watch a funny movie together. It will be so much fun.
And it always is, even though a lot of other stuff happens that you hadn’t counted on.
Like Hubby cleaning the barbecue in anticipation of our steaks that evening and dumping a small amount of grease and grimy bits in the woods across the road. When you live in the country, you can do that. Not five minutes later, our daughter arrives home from Halifax with her sturdy, M4 Sherman tank of a Labrador retriever, Josie. She’s adorable! We all try and hug her, but she instantly rushes into the woods and eats the grease. Josie’s mommy has a fit, Hubby is in the dog house and she’s on the phone to the vet. I’m still holding her bags.
The vet says to give her some salt to make her throw up. I’m still not sure why this is such an emergency, but I go along with it and we try and give the dog salt. This is not pretty. Josie’s mommy is a mess because she feels like a heel.
The dog eventually has to come inside because the mosquitoes are dive bombing us. That means our cat, Pip, has to be put downstairs, but my daughter-in-law is afraid of the cat and they are sleeping down there. I proceed to take up all the rugs and mats in the house because this dog is going to be sick. We wait with anticipation, but she is still fine hours later. The vet said that Labrador retrievers have stomachs made of cast iron, but eventually it happens. I can’t describe it. Then it happens again at 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.
All the while there are cries of: “Don’t let the dog downstairs!” “Don’t let the cat upstairs!” “Close the door!”
“Open the door!” “Let the dog out!” “Let the dog in!” “Don’t let the cat out, in, up or down!!” It’s a revolving circus, as are the tweets that are fast and furious between Josie’s mom and her dad, who’s visiting family on the other side of town.
We’re just settling down after this bru-ha-ha when my son and daughter-in-law go digging clams at 6 a.m. and come home with enough to feed all of Homeville. Now, there are suddenly 14 buckets of fresh water, salt water, sea water and water water crowding what little space there is in the kitchen, the porch, the shed and the back deck. Everyone is on Google, making sure we’re doing everything the right way because I know it will be our luck to get botulism instantly. They need to soak and spit out sand. Our daughter, the vegetarian, is horrified that this is going on under her nose and we have to slink from her accusing glare.
Everyone wants deep-fried clams. Now I’m making batter. Someone gets a pot and throws a bottle of oil in it. My daughter-in-law only likes using chopsticks to do this and I can’t find the pair she gave me. Hubby comes home and screams blue murder that we’re using a pot and not the deep-fryer that’s been in the bungalow for 100 years and that no one has used in two decades. According to him, we’re going to burn down the house, so he roars off to get it and now we have to transfer everything over in the middle of this delicate operation. There are six dish towels on the go
(all of them damp), two sinks full of dishes, Josie in the middle of the mayhem trying to lick the floor from the spattering grease, while Pip meows the song of his people through the crack in the door because he’s missing all the fun.
Then Hubby accidentally opens the door and Pip comes sauntering in. We freeze in terror as he slowly approaches Josie. He’s casual about it. Maybe we’ll have a miracle and they can co- exist in harmony.
Nope. Pip launches himself claws first at Josie’s head as she recoils in horror. Josie may be a husky girl, but she is a delicate flower in the personality department and this assault is too much for her. Josie’s mom screams at the cat, I scream at Hubby, everyone scrambles to separate the duo except my daughter-in-law, who shrinks into the nearest corner, as far away from Pip as she can get.
Finally, it’s time to wave goodbye and I get to replace all the rugs, strip the sheets off the beds, wash three loads of towels and gather up the stuff they forgot to take back with them.
And this is why family weekends are so much fun and why we can’t wait to do it again next Thanksgiving.
Family gatherings are not soon forgotten. Lesley Crewe is a writer living in, and loving, Cape Breton. These are the meandering musings of a bored housewife whose ungrateful kids left her alone with a retired husband and two fat cats who couldn’t care less. Her 10th novel, Beholden, is being released this fall.