Guests are coming

I grew up on the full house plan. Our house was roughly the same number of square feet as the house in which I live now, but it was arranged differently. It had an unfinished basement under part of the house, which functioned as a storage area and housed a few of our father’s tools. The main level of the house had one bedroom, one bathroom, the kitchen, living room and a large family room. Upstairs was another bathroom and three bedrooms, one of which could be divided by a folding door to make two rooms, as long as you understand that one of the rooms was also the passageway to the space on the end. Although there were seven children in our family, we never had all seven at home at once and the amount of time that we had six was fairly brief. When my second sister got married, the little boys moved upstairs at about the same time as the family room was being added onto the house downstairs. At that point we were two boys in one room, two boys in another room and our sister had a room to herself. All of the house’s bathrooms were shared. You headed to whichever one was unoccupied when you needed a bathroom. Our table always had both leaves installed and was stretched to its largest size. With seven as our usual seating pattern, it was easy to add another chair to the side with only two people to make room for eight. We could cram in a couple more if needed. My father loved to invite guests to dinner, which was our noon meal, and whoever was at his shop at noon often was seated at our table when we got home from school. We kids also knew that we could invite a friend without much trouble. Preparation for overnight guests usually involved making up one of the two hide-a-beds in the living room and putting fresh towels in the bathroom. When we kids had sleepovers it was usually summer and we went with the camp out with sleeping bags plan.

It has been different for us. We have only two children and though we had periods when our parents lived in our home, we’ve never had more than a few of us. And our home is arranged with one more bedroom than the home in which I was raised. Our basement has a finished apartment with its own kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and a small living area. For several years we have lived in the home with just two of us and an occasional guest or two. But we’re going to have a full house this weekend. Tonight our son’s family of five arrive and tomorrow Susan’s sister, her husband and granddaughter arrive. That will make ten. We have enough bedrooms and we have enough bathrooms as well.

There have been some preparations for the rush of people.

Four of our guests are children, ranging from 2 to 8. They are all arriving on the airlines, so we had to borrow four car seats and boosters of the appropriate size and shape for the visiting children. Parents can take child car seats with them when they travel and they aren’t charged to check them with their luggage, but the seats are large and difficult to carry. We know a lot of grandparents, so borrowing the right seats was not a problem.

I remember a couple of airline trips we made with our two children when they were 2 and 4 years old. We didn’t even consider taking their car seats with us. We drove 180 miles to get to Rapid City where we boarded the airliner which flew us to Denver where we switched planes for the flight to Boise. The process was repeated for our return. We made two trips to Boise in the spring of that year. Our daughter was prone to ear infections and on one of the trips she suffered when the pressure changed with the flight. It was a challenge for us to care for the kids. We only had two. Our son is traveling with three. And they arrive very late at night. They’ll have tired kids and probably will be in need of sleep themselves. Our guests arriving the next night will be traveling with their granddaughter and it will be her first overnight away from her parents. So it is a big deal fo our guests. We want them to feel welcome, comfortable and at home when they arrive.

Of course one of the rooms in our basement has been transformed into play room, filled with toys that our children used when they were little. Gone is the ironing board and sewing machine that usually are the centerpieces of the room, replaced by a lego table and a shelf of dolls and the big doll house and a host of other toys. It is something that was a tradition in my wife’s parent’s home. Whenever children visited, there was a room in the basement dedicated to toys and playing. It surprised me the first time we came, with friends from seminary who had two children. My mother in law had spent a lot of time making a welcome space for the children. When the same group got to my family’s home, they were just added into the usual full house. Beds were found for sleeping and there were a few toys to be found under the eaves in the upstairs bedroom, where they had been since they fell into disuse with our growing up.

In the midst of all of this, I find myself to be very excited about the arrival of our guests. We’ve been anticipating this for a long time and today has finally arrived. I don’t remember being so excited about guests when I was younger. I can hardly wait, even though my list of things to do today is a long one.

There’ll be plenty of ideas for the journal for the next week.

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!