! Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Go With The Flow

Just as the last gift was unwrapped, the last fruitcake tossed and the last, last minute gift arrived. It wasn’t a surprise- in fact the post-Christmas gathering was planned months in advance.

Little wonder then, that the plan unraveled faster than a ball of yarn in the paws of a psychotic kitten. Don’t get me wrong-I love making plans. It’s the execution of a carefully thought out, meticulously choreographed and minutely detailed extravaganza that is usually my downfall.

The months-long preparation to drive to Philly, hook up with family in Media, PA and meet there with friends who were coming in from Pittsburgh, collapsed like a house of cards mere hours before the truck was packed.
Frenzied conference calls ensued. Alternate cards were laid out on the table before the players and a new hand was dealt. I selfishly volunteered to stay home and let everyone come here.

Granted, accommodations are less than ideal for six adults, six dogs and a partridge in a pear tree- but “what the heck, it’s the holidays!” I muse, while tearing through the house, making beds, getting the plumbing (always the plumbing!) attended to, scribbling shopping notes on tiny post- it’s strewn throughout the place and whipping myself into a frenzy of straying outside of The Plan.

More phone calls ensued. Strep throat struck in Philly, knocking out two very important members of the group. Sighing, I picked up the phone and added one more, in lieu of the now-missing loved ones. Creating menus on the phone with Pittsburgh, I flew out of the house, picked up an extra large dog crate, more beer , less wine and looked heavenward as it began to snow.

Choking back tears on another call from Philly, I hastily made additional post-its to facilitate the completion of all tasks before the roads became too slick to navigate.In light of shifting the venue, searching for the now all-important fondue pot became tantamount to finding the Holy Grail. A minimum of three was required to pull off Bob & Ron’s now famous fondue for ten and my basement was (and is) “The Nightmare Before Christmas” - a result of my flinging dozens of crates filled with ornaments, dog stockings and assorted holiday “cheer”, resulting in the impression that Santa had literally exploded in a last ditch effort to smother my tiny house in a mountain of holiday splendor.

One by one, cars appeared. Dogs barked, luggage arrived in heaps. Bags and bags and bags of groceries were unpacked. (Bob and Ron are always prepared!) The phone rang incessantly as the mayhem ensued and I multi-tasked my little heart out shouting instructions to anyone who would listen.

I don’t care for surprises (ask anyone who was at my fortieth birthday bash) but made a valiant attempt to “go with the flow” as continual changes were thrown at me, including a last minute “date” appearing on the scene. (don’t ask!)

Folks settled in as the dogs made themselves at home on every couch, chair and hassock in the place. Menus were fine- tuned as the animals, en masse, were fed and walked (repeatedly- in below zero weather). Maps were poured over as all parties concerned debated which sights were to be seen, now that the party was in the Catskills.

Amidst the mountains of coats, scarves,suitcases, hats and boots-I surveyed the comical scene and smiled. I was once again reminded of how fortunate I am. My friends had traveled hundreds of miles- at a moments notice, just to congregate and make merry... without hesitation.

The house smelled like hot cocoa and cookies (and dogs, dogs, dogs!). I breathed it all in, trying to capture the glorious moment in my head... creating the proverbial movie in my mind. I snaked my way through the living room, the ever-present phone to my ear, making even more plans for the next day- and the day after that. I forced myself to stop and smell the roses (yes, I mean dogs), soaking it all in. I took a picture or two to remind me of the moment and told each of my friends how much I love them.

We made more calls to those who could not attend and told them how much we loved them too. Either I’m becoming a complete sap as I mature, or maturity has caused me to appreciate something I have always possessed. Either way, it feels good, so I think I’ll just “go with the flow.”

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