My Sister & I Don't See Eye to Eye on Family Gatherings

Summertime opens its doors wide for get-togethers, gatherings, reunions, and all manner of crowd pleasers.

We're no exception in this neck of the woods.

I completely avoid the word entertaining.  Yuck.  No one's trying to impress anyone around here.  We just want everyone to kick off their shoes {toss them in the big wicker basket so grandma doesn't trip}, relax, and enjoy whatever's happening.

I love it.

But this introvert learned long ago that not only do I need to have clean sheets on the beds and extra food in the fridge, but I do well to ready my soul for the joy-filled noise and ceaseless activity and all manner of good times that are to come.

I need to build in quiet spaces before, during, and after.


This works for me:
I clear my calendar.
I purposely create a large margin of white space around myself a week or so before everyone starts arriving.  I say 'no thanks' to meetings, activities, and appointments that don't need my attendance or involvement.

I pull back online. 
I might do a bit of writing but you won't find me running around.  I'll see you later.

I stock the cupboards well ahead of time.  
Amazon and Walmart have become my grocery free-delivery go-to's.  The final shopping trip will pretty much be fresh produce, meat, breads, and dairy, enough to get us through the first few days.  After that, all bets are off and the kids can figure out what they want to do next.

I clear away unnecessary tchotchkes from counters and tables.
We need every spare inch of space we can find.

I save the heavy duty cleaning for after everyone has departed.
My philosophy has morphed into 'why clean twice.'  Yes, the bathroom is scrubbed and the sheets are fresh but any other cleaning comes after the last car has departed.

I let everyone around me roll up their sleeves in the kitchen.
I used to think I had to be in charge of each meal.  No more.  Everyone around here is a whole lot more capable than I am.  I let them do their thing.  And no one arrives at the door empty-handed.  I'm not that gracious.

I find pockets of solitude in the midst of it all.
I'll sneak away for a little quiet time.  Or head to my room for a bit of an afternoon breather.  No one needs to have me around every second.  I've yet to hear, 'where's Grandma, I miss her so much.'

I leave myself plenty of quiet space after.
My husband and I join forces for a huge cleaning marathon when all is done.  The kitchen, laundry, floors, and bathrooms get attacked with all our might.  Before the last car is 'round the corner.

And then we nap.  Sit and quietly process all the joy and madness.  And then nap some more.


But {of course} my sister completely disagrees:
I get ready for family gatherings totally opposite than my sister. 

My calendar is not cleared, it is packed with activity until the last minute, otherwise I will find I have those "forgotten" things to do while people are here or I am at their house. 

I spend days and nights cleaning before a group arrives, so everything is clean.  Once they leave, I wash sheets and towels, but I don't rush to clean anything else - it can wait. 

I agree that everyone can bring food and help set up and clean up.  They have more energy than me anyway! 

I don't take alone time when everyone is here.  I don't want to miss one minute.  It is noisy, at times chaotic, but I will catch Linda's eye across the room and we smile, happy to have everyone together, remembering past reunions and realizing that we are now the older generation.  I look around the room, thank God for everyone there - with all our differences and all our struggles - then I walk into the bathroom, close the door and cry for those family members missing or who are in heaven. 

When I return to the room, I catch Linda's eye and we hug - though so different from each other, we don't need words to understand the meaning of family.


If you're planning any kind of event, enjoy the whole shebang, no matter how you make it happen.  No one will notice the dust bunnies in the corner or cobwebs draped here and there.  And if they do, well that's another story.  Relax, be a kid again, and create fresh memories.  For these are the good old days.