Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Be My Guest

Aaron has been the most frequent guest at his Grandma and Grandpa's house. From the age of six months, even before he could sit up, we would come upstairs to the little kid's room, sit cross-legged on the floor, and play with the Brio train pieces. I found all the cars with magnets because his favorite activity was hooking "cargo" on the little wooden hoists. As early in the evening as he thought he could plausibly ask, he would be ready for a bath in the downstairs tub and soon he and I would be ladling strawberry soup into the measuring cups with the big spoons. Being the first grandkid meant that the toy selection was sparse back then and "spoons and cups" were readily available. After the bath, he'd brush his teeth with the veggie tale toothbrush and we would read McDuff, or Thomas the Train. Repeatedly.

I get a kick out the routines the small people invent as visitors. Aaron has graduated to Legos and construction, planes and army. Lizzie used to come in and immediately pull all the puzzles out to the floor. Now she does want to put the pieces back!! Lizzie and Abbie both get the "girls" from their plastic ziplock bag and dump them on the chair. If the "girls" are clothed, the clothes come off. When my little girls leave, I put clothes back on the toys so they are ready to be denuded again. Gabe also finds the planes and helicopters. He makes some buzzing noises with them, but proceeds to park the planes in certain locations that seem right to him...maybe the stairs in the front room, maybe the back stairs, maybe the dining room table. Altitude matters...they are seldom just left willy nilly on the floor.

Having guests has always meant baking. Unless I was really pressed for time, I thought company deserved a Mrs. Peters coffeecake, or a Phyllis' coffeecake, baked goods that required no special ingredients and no extra trip to the HyVee. Apple bread would be part of lunch or supper. It is a pleasant ritual to freshen the sheets and know that someone may be using the reading light in the guest room. We have a lovely new light fixture in the dining room and I am anxious to set the big table for a big meal and enjoy the heat and humidity in the kitchen and bustle in the house that attends a gathering. There are certain dishes that simply gather dust until we do...big pottery bowls, ringing wine glasses, platters.

It was pleasant to be a guest this last week. My hosts had a birthday cake and lovely bottle of wine prepared. I was greeted at the airport with curb to curb service. The coffeepot was ready and the Starbucks coffee set out. The guest bathroom had been labeled "do not enter" until my arrival! I appreciated the preparation and planning.

But it is also a pleasure to feel at home and NOT feel like a guest. I want the grandkids to know every nook and cranny and constantly make new routines that evolve into new traditions. I want the homefolks to assume there will be pop in the fridge and chocolate in the candy dish on the dining room table and spare slippers for our frigid winter floors. There's plenty of room in this house to make it homey for all.

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