Ah holidays! When nearly forgotten, ever eccentric and quirky relatives leave their attics and tree trunks or wherever it is they reside, and provide ample entertainment during family gatherings. No, I dont have an Uncle Albert who floats up to the ceiling every time he laughs or an Aunt Mabel who likes to wander into neighbors homes and pilfer their pantries. But I do have Uncle Larry,
For many Thanksgivings my grandmothers children, along with assorted grandchildren and great grandchildren, gathered at her home to celebrate together. Personally, I believe in small, meaningful (as opposed to meaningless) crowds at holiday events. Anything beyond say, a dozen or so relations may provide a recipe for unrest and possible mayhem.
Grandmas youngest son, Larry, lived 140 miles away. He visited Grandma several times a year bringing along his wife, Fran, twenty-three year-old daughter Melba and pooch, Henry. Henry is a Boston Terrier, whose purchase price, wed all been assured, rivaled that of a small, slightly used, Korean automobile.
Henry was much loved by Fran and Melba. Whenever they visited, Henry perched on the coffee table or sofa, striking a pose that only a dog owner could love. His owner, that is. Or he pranced about as far as his little paws carried him, though Grandma preferred he enjoy the great outdoors. No matter that Grandma hovered around ninety years old, had asthma and kept her own dog in the backyard when company was present; Henrys place was among the other guests.
Larrys previous visit was during a family and friends party of about fifty people. Visitors mostly lounged in the living room, family room and kitchen areas. Coincidentally, Henry too mostly lingered in those rooms, on a leash. Unfortunately, his flexible, twenty-six foot leash created a booby trap of sorts, tripping a few elderly relatives who then slipped on the wet puddle next to Henrys water bowl (in the family room) and almost fell headlong onto the kitchen counter.
After a few complaints about said leash, Melba decided to liberate Henry. He, in turn, chose to reward all by trotting away into Grandmas master bedroom and doing his dooty on the carpet beside her bed in the exact spot that Granny liked to place her foot upon climbing in and out of bed.
So come Thanksgiving, Grandma asked Larry to leave Henry at home. Larry objected, claiming Henry had nowhere to go.
My dear, intelligent reader, please note at this point: Larrys family kept a full-time, live-in maid, and Fran had about a dozen relatives living within a fifteen-mile radius of their home, including her parents, assorted aunts and uncles, brothers, and several cousins.
Larry told Grandma that either Henry came along for Thanksgiving or none of them would be there. Grandma felt disturbed, not quite knowing how to please everyone or anyone, for that matter.
Grandma clearly failed to adequately explain about kennels and dog-sitters to Larry in his youth. She considered her options: hosting an outdoor Thanksgiving celebration that year so Henry could do his business properly. Grandma could wrap herself in heavy blankets and a snow-cap so the chilly, late fall air would hopefully not affect her. Then again, she could wish Larry and Henry Happy Thanksgiving via the telephone, fax or instant messaging, thanks to the wonders of modern technology. And there always was plastic sheeting. Granny could spread the sheeting over the flooring and furniture so Henry could roam and reign and do his dooty freely.
As it turned out, Larry and his family came, and left Henry at home with their housekeeper which, Fran informed Grandma, was where they typically left him when they were not at home. All this fuss over naught.
Larry needed to get his priorities straight. As the ending of this episode showed, holiday arrangements for Henry were easily made. Larry could have made his mother happy by merely exercising some thought and flexibility for that one evening. Yes, moms do take priority over pets. Most moms, anyway.
Holidays may bring along added stress from the excitement of organizing, socializing and/or traveling. Stress promotes stupidity as it prevents clarity of thought. Take note of what it did to Larry. Its important to acknowledge this ahead of time and plan ways to alleviate or defuse potential sources of anxiety. Deep thought, deep breaths and an equally deep sense of humor can work wonders to keep stress at bay. A small taser gun slipped inside a long sleeve may help too.
Think first, last and always.