Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Over the river and through the woods....

So here's the scoop:

Heading off to Thor's folks place tomorrow for the big day with some of the kids and generally whomever shows up on that side of the family. They have an acre of land with two houses on it and plenty of yard left over for croquet, badminton, basketball, football, soccer, hide and seek, and the telephone pole out back that anyone who wants to can put on a pair of lineman's boots and try to climb with a harness. If tradition holds out the weather should be rather warm and perfect for staying outside.

The littlest of people can roam freely on the acre, feeding chickens, ducks and geese, collecting eggs for gramma, or chase each other through the freshly mown grass. They are welcome to dig holes and usually there is some sort of digging contest which involves depth and tunnels and being big enough to accommodate several filthy children by 2:00. There is a ride on toy and plenty of bikes, skateboards and scooters, wagons, and tons of old stuff saved from when their parents lived in that house. Thor once was the proud owner of a unicycle, still in the bowels of the garage along with a couple of pogo sticks.

Tweeners seem to love the pomegranate bush and pick off fruit and sit under a tree to pick out the delicious seeds until their entire fingertips (both hands) are as red as the fruit. They can go for walks around the neighborhood and visit horses and goats and other animals the neighbors have. Or they can sneak off to the house out back and play video games, music, watch sports or dance and be silly playing board games, or running up and down the stairs while all the adults are looking the other way.

Young adults gather out front and play sports until someone threatens a broken neck. A few go off to chat about careers, education, who is dating, married, giving birth, or getting ready to commit homicide over this or that subject or professor in college. Someone finds a way to show up in a "new" car each year so there are test drives and talk about payment schedules and just how much time they will need to pay it off before student loans catch up to them.

The adults divide by gender and yak it up over crackers and cheese, veggies and dip until the conversation heads off to the kitchen. The guys will have gathered together to assemble the tables: the real one, and the door turned on it's side, set on two saw horses and covered with clothes, the kids tables, and card tables where a lot of the tweeners like to eat and have elbow room. The young adults take care of setting the table and the women take care of making sure everyone has filled up on the crackers and cheese while we finish off the cooking.

If crackers and cheese aren't your idea of a snack before the big meal, gramma and grampa have made sure there are candy dishes filled to the brim with M&Ms, Skittles, Red Vines, chocolate covered peanuts, cashews, nut mix, peppermint patties, and baby Reeses' peanut butter cups every twenty feet in the house. If you miss those you can always grab a chocolate or oatmeal cookie from out of the opened and strategically placed Costco box and if you get thirsty... head out through the garage and grab a soda from the cooler.

At one point everyone, all 60 of us will be scrunched into the kitchen - dining and living room areas setting and placing food which, no matter how hard you try, will become cold as ice before you can eat it. The women cook and the guy folk carve and it's a carbohydrate artery clogging festival! Each family brings part of the side dishes and someone is assigned the turkey and another a ham.

The food is less than stellar. Nothing fancy or gourmet. The turkey is usually pretty good -as is the ham, after that, well we're talking cafeteria food. Green bean casserole with the gray funky sauce and crushed fried onions, runny funeral potatoes and lumpy mashed potatoes, red jello that is melting to quickly, another red jello that has cool whip in it, orange jello, and of course the green fluffy jello. Canned yams with burnt marshmallows on top, corn, and plain green beans. Costco rolls with grocery store brand margarine. A beautiful salad NO ONE ever eats. Salty gravy and 2 kinds of soggy stuffing- with and without onions. A couple of dishes full of canned cranberry jello sliced according to the rings on the can and a dish of the cranberry relish. A plate of raw cauliflower, "baby" carrots, and broccoli with ranch dressing.

Everything has traveled at least an hour... let your mind wrap around that for a second!

Each family always brings at least two desserts. This adds up to each person having at least six servings of pie, cake, brownies, cookies, pudding stuff and who knows what else. And for some weird reason, these always taste pretty good.

The only rules are that you have fun and give both grandparents a hug and a kiss. After that, it's no holds barred. Grampa delights in ruining every child's appetite; and if he can sense a mother's indignation that's all he needs to kick it into high gear and make sure the kid never eats anything nutrious the entire day. The "meal" begins at about 3:00, but the eating begins the minute you enter the property and doesn't stop until gramma stuffs your car with leftovers and "something" for the ride home, which usually includes a soda and cookies.

Is it any wonder why my kids still love to go to gramma's?

add to sk*rt


chronicler said...

Sounds like enormous fun! Don't you just love big families.

Sarah said...

That sounds like some kind of dreamy movie set! Do you think they'd notice if I showed up next year and just sat in the corner enjoying it?

s'mee said...

Chronicer and Sarah,

This family is pretty funny... on many levels! I am not sure I would call it "dreamy" but it is over the top! We had a great time and the desserts did not dissappoint...again!

One thing about this family is that they welcome whomever shows up at the door, even uninvited, they grab you in, force feed you, and make you sit and visit before you got out for some no hiding in the corners!

C- I talked with Thor's mom about the day they went to wait for you to deliver, told her you never forget that. She started to get all weepy. Thought you should know. : )