It’s that character-building time of the year when all those carefully thwarted irritations caused by living with people you didn’t choose to live with, are thrown squarely into the spotlight on the family holiday.
Why I insist on instilling this week of hell bonding I have no idea, but I get sentimental after I watch the Americans celebrate Thanksgiving and we begin the final approach to the silly season. All those movies like Love Actually, The Holiday and Home Alone remind me of the importance of keeping families together, no matter how far apart our life journeys take us.
Why I should feel the need to do this when our young adults refuse to leave home, I don’t know, but the aim of this week is to get through it to be thankful for what we have and to remind each other how much we really love and appreciate each other. I expert either Kurt or the old man to be back on the road by day two.
We’ve allowed the kids to invite a friend this year, with certain conditions drawn up by our solicitor. We want to encourage their friendships, show them how much we respect them as young adults and demonstrate to them how chilled we can be by this out-of-character ‘more the merrier’ approach, but we also hope that their friends provide enough of a distraction that we don’t have to actually do anything to entertain them ourselves.
We have yet to meet Kurt’s friend in person because each time he has come to the house so far he is stowed away in Kurt’s den as fast as you can say ‘Marijuana’, so the only evidence of his visits are the sound of his baritone laugh, an increase in the smoke levels in the courtyard and a shared enthusiasm for twanging ‘Waltzing Matilda’ on guitar late at night. He did order in a pizza the other night under the name of Donald Trump, so I assume he has a sense of humour.
We’re not over-anxious parents but Kurt and his friend don’t arrive at our holiday home until the day after we leave Sydney and so to avoid the temptation of the current teenage trend for a ‘free’ at our place – teenage slang for when the “rents” are away, hence a free house to destroy – we need to make sure he leaves before we do, check every orifice for any spare keys he may have secreted, and hire guards (at great expense) for each boundary of the property.
NC’s friend has replaced The Astronaut – he who can never be mentioned but whose loss the old man and I continue to grieve over when we’re drunk, much to her disgust. Hopefully she matches NC’s current enthusiasm for all-night partying which means we won’t see them much of them.
The best part about this holiday is that it is a dog-friendly establishment and so The Princess is coming with us and her superior parenting skills should keep things vaguely civil. Hopefully this means that the old man won’t be tempted to spoon me in the bed for our annual Christmas ‘cuddle’ and we won’t have to endure her un-stoic suffering at the kennels on the pet-cam either. When the suitcases came out, her usual panic attack provoked by separation anxiety was quickly quashed once we gave her her own back pack which she has been filling with relish with her toys and the contents of hers and Kurt’s Advent calendar ever since.
The old man and I remain optimistic about long walks along the beach, time for reading, a chance to catch up on the one or two British Netflix series that we haven’t yet done marathon screenings of when hungover and some culinary indulgence. With four twenty-somethings (who we suspect are only really coming for the free booze), and an anxious dog, what could possibly go wrong?