November 25, 2009 by Marj Hatzell
Last night we had our typical family dinner. Dogs were whining at the door to get at the scraps Bugaboo left behind as he bounded around the house, casting crumbs here and there like Hansel and Gretel. Bug Boy sat at the table jabbering on about his day while interrupting every sentence DH and I said to each other (because apparently, the word “THE” triggers his memory about something AMAZING that happened that day). DH and I looked up at each other, rolling our eyes and doing our best to cover our faces so Bug Boy didn’t get a complex, since we were laughing about every thing he said. And when he caught us smirking or teasing, he’d do PALM TO FACE and let out and exasperated sigh, and say things like, “You GUYS! C’MON!” or “I’M SERIOUS HERE! IT REALLY STARTLED ME!” The phone was ringing off the hook, I could hear the computer getting e-mail after e-mail after e-mail. My cell phone beeped as someone(s) left texts.
This is par for the course at our house. The multiple doggies? My fault, I invite them. The neighborhood kids straying down to my house when bored? My fault. Again. The phones and computer? I could turn them off. But here’s the thing:
I appreciate the chaos.
C’mon, y’all. I have six surviving siblings. I grew up in a three-bedroom twin with a common drive and a postage stamp for a back yard. On top of that, my parents did foster care and often we had two or three babies in our care. There were cradles and cribs and blankets with babes EVERYWHERE. We had a couch. I think. And it may have been covered with laundry. And we had one bathroom. As in, ONE TOILET FOR NINE PEOPLE. And a galley kitchen with an eating AREA, not a dining room. Let’s just say it was crowded.
And the chaos? Wow. Think about it. Sixteen year age difference between the oldest and youngest, many imps in between, babies crying, tv blaring, knock-’em-out fights occurring, girls whining about not having privacy, a dog or two (and a cat or two or three and some hamsters and fish and a few parakeets) running about. It’s like the scene in Monty Python’s THE MEANING OF LIFE except my parents decided somewhere along the way that every sperm was NOT sacred and they’d waste a few.
And I miss it.
I miss the chaos. I never thought I’d want a large family, but THERE! I said it! I miss it. And perhaps that is why I don’t mind having my house full of kids and dogs a neighbors and strays and the like. I like to be surrounded by it. I want my home to be safe, comfortable and loving. A safe haven, if you will. The kind of place you can kick off your shoes and be comfy, without worrying if you will step in some goo. Or sit on it (THANK YOU LEATHER COUCHES!). While it seems like I’m overwhelmed, the truth is, I THRIVE on this. I love having nieces and nephews and neighbors and friends over. OFTEN. I like the mess (as long as I can clean it up). I like the noise.
I like the love.
Tomorrow we’ll have my whole family. THE WHOLE CLAN. All siblings, plus their kids, perhaps some of their dogs (and the two I’m dogsitting and my two dogs). It will be a squeeze to get everyone at one looooooong table, Whoville style. It’ll be crazy, we’ll be shouting over one another, reminiscing, telling jokes. Stealing potatoes from each others’ places. Running out of stuff. Going around the table talking about what we are thankful for. Picking pollyannas for the little ones so they can send secret things to their cousins. Dad will be snoring on the couch after dinner, along with the other men, I’m sure (except my husband, who will be snitching more turkey from the carcass. He can’t possibly let it go to waste, y’all). The dogs will be sniffing about after dinner, hoovering up every last crumb. And it will be grand. I can’t wait.
So, what am I thankful for? ALL OF THAT. Family, chaos, closeness, yelling, bickering, kids running about, dogs stealing food, gravy stains on the table cloth, cramming in to get at the table, football on during dinner. ALL OF THAT.
So tell me, dearest reader (s), what are you thankful? Me? I’m thankful for a house for of love.