Imagine, if you will, a tranquil late-autumn evening. It’s the first day of your Thanksgiving holiday, and you are reclining in your easy chair, enjoying the warmth and gently dancing flames of your fireplace insert – with semi-realistic gas logs – and sipping a cup of warm tea from your new Keurig machine that Bed Bath & Beyond put on sale for 50% off immediately after your purchase.
Suddenly, the serenity of the evening is shattered by the slamming of the garage door, the harsh jangle of keys against the kitchen counter and the raucous rumble of wheels from an unnecessarily large and expensive suitcase across the kitchen tile, followed by shouts of “I’m home! Where’s Mom!?”
Our family is now experiencing the chaotically sweet phenomenon of our two older daughters coming home from college to enjoy their holidays with family and reconnect with hometown retail centers.
When our daughters left for college this year, we conducted a deep cleaning and reorganization of their bedrooms so that they could come home to fresh and relaxing spaces when they visit. Exactly 24 hours after their arrival for Thanksgiving break, their bedrooms resembled disaster relief donation centers – with open suitcases strategically positioned to rupture my ACL when I came in to kiss them goodnight.
After informing us of her urgent need for a cell phone upgrade, our eldest and most expensive daughter spent the first evening of her break hanging out with her high school friends – who were also home from college sharing memories and soiled laundry with their parents.
And speaking of laundry, I had almost forgotten what it’s like to spend what seems like hours loitering in our laundry room and battling against the laws of physics to reinsert numerous floppy bra pad thingies back into holes that seem entirely too small for floppy bra pad thingies – praying that I match the correct bras and floppy bra pad thingies, and don’t get them upside down or backward – which might cause chafing or some other unthinkable malady.
Our middle daughter spent her first full day at home lounging in her queen-sized bed, relishing the fact that she didn’t have to break out her rappelling equipment to take a nap in her twin-sized dorm loft. Once re-energized, she quickly headed out for reunions with some of her favorite people – namely, the employees of the local Target and Starbucks.
Our youngest daughter was enjoying her break from high school by intermittently raiding the pantry for snacks (approximately once every 20 minutes) to allow her overheated retinas time to recover from marathon YouTube sessions. She seemed fairly oblivious to the homecoming of her sisters, casually asking me when they would arrive – after they had already been with us for about 8 hours.
The highlights of the girls’ visits have been the home-cooked meals we prepare at their request – giving them a break from the near-starvation rations they are allotted in college cafeterias where they are forced to survive on an all-you-can-eat array of buffet style salad bars, dessert stations, international cuisine and retail dining franchises. Apparently, though, the mashed potatoes at college just taste weird.
Although I miss having little girls, it’s great having them all at home together–even all grown up. My only complaints are that their visits are never long enough – and the floppy bra pad thingies.
Graves is an award-winning humor columnist from East Texas. Contact Graves at email@example.com