When I was up at ABC Books this last weekend, I got to chatting with the owner while she prepared the final batch of emergency gift cards for Christmas, and she mentioned that they would not be able to travel to spend Christmas with their family this year as her husband works for a school district which has placed restrictions on its employees.
So I got my beautiful wife to extend an invitation to have Christmas dinner with us. And they accepted.
Which caused a bit of a CRISIS! here at Nogglestead. We have not had dinner guests aside from immediate family in years.
I mean, my brother and nephew are coming for Christmas this year, and we have had my mother-in-law and a family friend for holidays in the interim, but they only trigger a normal cleaning of the house. With guests who have not been here before, we would need a real cleaning and other preparations.
CRISIS, I say!
- Some people have nice towels to put out when they have guests over. At Nogglestead, we do not have ‘good’ towels. We have towels, and then beneath them but sometimes in rotation less good towels which are shortly on the way to the garage towels. So we would make sure that the less bad towels are out for the guests. And maybe that the towel holder was tightened against the wall so that it would not fall off the wall when the guests wash their hands. Well, all tight, it is held in with a toggle bolt that can handle a hundred pounds, but it still loosens to the point that it will jingle festively at times.
- We do, however, have good toilet paper, and I’d need to make sure the hall bathroom had it. When toilet paper supplies briefly tightened this autumn, I picked up a couple packages of the most economical and, coincidentally, what Walmart had left. It’s single ply, little more than spider webs. It’s so sheer that if my beautiful wife wrapped herself in it, I would find it seductive. Of course, that’s not saying much as I find my wife seductive in pretty much any apparel. And I do not have any affinity for gossamer toilet paper, although I did watch The Golden Child over and over as a youth because it was on Showtime and I was not supposed to leave the trailer when my mother wasn’t home all day. Where was I?
- Okay, gauging their relative heights, we would not have to clean the high places like the top of the refrigerator. We still would probably want to clean the walls, the floors, the furniture, and probably the ceilings. Given that we’re out of the home with church activities almost all day today, that would have meant a late night or two of cleaning and, worse, exhorting the children to help.
- My beautiful wife planned a menu for six, a simple meal of turkey, salad, cranberries, rolls, and pie–I planned to pad it out by trying to make mashed potatoes for the first time in, what, seven years? and the second time in, what, thirty years? However, with Real Guests, we would need to have gravy, and this has been something that my mother-in-law has contributed in circumstances where we needed gravy. So what would I do? Try to make gravy from the, what part of the turkey is it that you make turkey from? Or I could buy a can of gravy at the supermarket–they sell gravy in cans, don’t they? And deal with the SCANDAL! of canned gravy. So the addition of two people made our menu suddenly an EMERGENCY!, although we would have had enough pie for everyone.
- And let’s face it, Nogglestead is getting a little long in tooth. As I mentioned, it hasn’t changed much over the years. The carpets that were old when we bought Nogglestead are very old now. We have not done any significant upgrades aside from painting some of the walls. The kitchen floor and cabinets are in pretty rough shape–as is the trim throughout the house. I mean, I get excited and proud when I fix a little thing in the kitchen. So it’s looking a little shabby. However, given that I blow most of my money on charity and books instead of home improvements, perhaps they would understand–especially since I spend so much at ABC Books.
I know, I know: In the Christmas language, the character for “crisis” is the same as for “opportunity” (it’s right here on the Internet, so you can believe it). And, actually, I was excited to have some new people come to visit. I was looking to showing off the over-stuffed bookshelves and saying that it was their fault. I was concerned that I would say that the last dinner guests we had were serial killers (which is not likely true; the serial killers were the penultimate dinner guests, and as far as I know, the last people we had to dinner seven or so years ago were not serial killers, but they do travel widely, perhaps the better to keep the police from their trail of murder).
Unfortunately, the husband who works at a school somewhere, somehow, was exposed to The Continuing Unpleasantness, so he has to quarantine for two weeks, his entire Christmas break, and they won’t be able to attend after all. Which averts the artificial and not very crisisical crisis.
And it would have been a little different, a more memorable Christmas than the same-old, same-old Christmases from the past. The last couple of years, they have followed a pattern: Cinnamon rolls in the morning, church, opening presents, dinner, clean-up, and then a normal evening. I hate to be bored with such a blessing, but I need a little shake-up.
My brother and nephew are coming, though, so it will be a good Christmas. With less housecleaning.