January 18, 2010 by Marj Hatzell
I’m one of seven kids and most of us are married. We all have significant others Five of us have kids of our own, two have step-kids of their own. Let’s just say a small family gathering AIN’T SMALL, YO. It’s chaos. Mass chaos. And we like it that way.
Now, Bugaboo can’t deal with much change. He has a tough time at other people’s houses, especially when they aren’t Bugaboo-proof. Over the holidays we tried out his new-found social skills (I love his school. Have I mentioned how much I love his school? No? WELL, I DO.) and made it out to three smallish gatherings. Smallish, as in, we can find a quiet spot for him that is relatively safe and where there isn’t too much to break. He did OK! But the majority of places we visit, therefore, we either don’t bring him at all or only one of us attends. Usually me, because if DH went that means he’d have to, you know, converse? Speak? Be near people? Not his bag.
I don’t have the biggest house out of my siblings. It’s bigger than some and I do have a large kitchen. It’s great for setting up buffets. The Dining Room is a bit of a squeeze but we make it work somehow. What I do have is a finished basement, which houses the playroom. Playroom, as in every to my sisters have every passed on to me. Playroom, as in tunnels, crashpits, beanbag chairs and a swing. A SWING. Playroom, as in Wii and Cable and stuff. It’s a great kid place. They LERVE it. I lerve it. Because I can close the door after a party and forget about the mess. I kick a few toys out of the way on my way to the laundry room and I’m good to go. Every once in a while I bribe a few neighborhood kids to clean it ($5 for Club Penguin goes a loooong way!) and I’m a happy camper.
Most of our family gatherings are in winter and fall. We have a few spring/summer things but between October and January we have a birthday, anniversary or other gathering EVERY WEEK between both sides of the family We don’t celebrate the adult birthdays anymore but we do celebrate for the kids. And some of those poor kids have birthdays within a week or two of Christmas. Because of my impeccable timing, both of my kids have December Birthdays. Super-duper Suckage, yo. The coolest part about the spring or summer parties is that I have a HUGE fenced in yard. It’s kid central. Toys, swings, balls, you name it (we only lack a trampoline, which I’m not sure I miss). We have great, big shady oaks and thick, plush grass. Once we even had a deck (which will be replaced by a masonry patio, hopefully this spring). We throw up a few folding tables and some chairs and party until the wee hours. And I do mean wee. It’s great fun.
My parents always call to thank me the next day. But the truth is, I should thank all of THEM. It sounds bizarre, but it is easier for me to host. Easier, because everyone brings stuff anyway. Our family is so big I can assign everyone a platter or beverage and I have little to prepare. But the real reason I do it is because it is just easier for Bugaboo. I hire the Best Teenaged Babysitter Ever to keep close tabs on him until it’s his bedtime and then she puts him to sleep. It’s win-win. We don’t have to leave early, we enjoy ourselves and we get to spend as much time as we want with our family. And the dogs do most of the cleaning up. Kidding. Maybe.
Now, I just have to find a way to get the dishes to wash themselves. Then it would be perfect. I still have a full sink from yesterday’s birthday party. Time to call the dogs over to take care of them. Kidding.
But you’ll never know, will you?