Granted I didn’t put a lot of planning into it, but a casual gathering of friends to snowshoe and ski seemed like just the way to kick February vacation off to a good start. I should have taken heed when most people rsvp’d that they would (regretfully?) be out of town, no doubt traveling to less snowy climes, doing exotic tropical things. With our crew that has never been an option, not that I’ve minded ---- much. Fun is what you make it, right?
Party day got off to a rocky start the night before, with me worrying half the night about our “adult” Critters who were out and about – when does this stop? – and crawling out of bed not only still exhausted, but with allergy nose, sneezing and dripping like a sieve. Since FirstBorn and Only Son had opted to spend the night at thier friend’s house, the bright spot of the morning was that the rest of us could all fit in the car on the way to Mass. (Did I mention that Vantana is in the shop getting a new transmission and wheel bearings, leaving only the five-in-a-tight-squeeze passenger, stick shift SuZi? But that’s another story...) After Mass, we headed downstairs to the parish hall for a little pre-party Sunday brunch. Being a social butterfly has its drawbacks; we were some of the last down so we missed out on the bacon. Also, we had to eat with plates in our laps, which reminds me – I still have to get that syrup out of Hubby’s slacks.
Back at home, I put a pot of homemade chili on the back burner to simmer, sampled the guacamole, and did a little last minute tidy before folks started to arrive. Backroad of Busted Mufflers aside, the families that actually made it had more issues with our steep, ice-crusted driveway. Dr. Denny and CindyComeLately with their three Amigos were surprisingly early, wearing winning smiles and bearing a beautiful lasagna. Big Johnny, when he arrived, took a hard spill coming up the walk, but bounced up with barely a grimace, his family following more cautiously in his wake. Our missing Critters eventually showed up (I didn’t ask) and that’s when it started to get interesting.
Accepting that we weren’t going to abandon our guests for four hours (as forewarned) to drive her back to college in time for her tech rehearsal, Firstborn attempted (unsuccessfully) to rustle up a ride. When nothing panned out with her friends, Big Johnny offered taxi service in lieu of our planned outdoor adventure. Maybe he was being nice, and maybe he’d hit the ice harder than he let on, and wanted an easier out. Either way, boy, was he ever wrong!
Finally, it was time for the rest of us to head into the Great Outdoors - everyone except for the teen-aged girls, who squirreled themselves away in Third Child’s purple-passion den, doing girlie stuff. Sorting out winter gear, skis, poles, and snowshoes, Hubby, Dr. D. & C.C. Lately, and the remaining Critters divvied up trail maps and headed out. The day was sparkling, the breeze light, and trails thoughtfully pre-tramped by Hubby the day before. Big Johnny’s Missus and I hung back with our youngest, Little Miss and Bonus Baby, attempting to put on their skis. Note: a persistently drippy proboscis and broken bindings do not go well together. B.B.’s boot ended up covered in eeeew! and held in place with used twist ties. Halfway across the yard she lost a ski. More bending over = more dripping. More ski’s coming off = tears, more exasperating dripping, and finally a decision to go sledding instead. Too late, I realized how icy our driveway (a.k.a. the sled run) really was, and nearly broke my neck attempting to stay upright while holding back a sled load of anxious six year olds. I parked the nose of the sled in the snow bank with orders for them to stay put until I called up the all’s clear from the bottom. When they came screaming – literally - down the driveway, my heart nearly stopped. B.B. rolled out as the sled tipped and Little Miss shot past, crashing harmlessly into the bank. More tears from Bonus Baby, but nothing more serious than a bruised elbow, thankfully. Little Miss wanted to go again. We compromised with me offering to pull them back up the hill, but ended up turning it into a game where they had to crawl up on their bellies to save us all from an early grave. Big Johnny’s Missus and I were more than ready to chill out on the porch with a glass of Zinfandel when the little ladies went inside to play. When we eventually got up to go inside, another bout of sneezing caught me off guard. You’ve no doubt heard women complain about the effects of sneezing after childbirth: Multiply that by five. Needless to say, I had to change. A little later, Bonus Baby got a little too wrapped up in playing, and well, let’s just say she and I had a little more in common than usual.
As the trekkers straggled back in, I doled out hot cocoa and begged the teens to include the pre-teens in their activities. More sneezing and more dripping nose. And then the phone rang.
It was Big Johnny. A harrowing blowout had left him and Firstborn stranded along the interstate with a shredded tire, and little chance of her getting to rehearsal on time or him making it back without a very expensive tow. Possibilities were kicked around, and soon Hubby & Dr. D. hopped into our SuZi and headed an hour out of their way to pick up Big J.’s spare – then off to the rescue! In the meantime, a tow truck was called to haul the stranded motorists to the nearest town, where they waited, cold and hungry.
Back on the home front, kids found stuff to do while the ladies commiserated, drank more wine, and played Bananagrams on the floor in front of the wood stove. It was almost fun, except this hostess felt run over by a truck – sneezy days really wipe me out, even without the accidents and added stress, and my bed was looking mighty appealing...... and really far away!
By the time help finally arrived, Firstborn had gotten a college chum to come and pick her up. Just as I was getting dinner on the table she called to say she’d made it safely back. Confession time: I was still a little miffed, though once the decision was made for Big J. to take her, the outcome was irrelevant, and I knew I had no right. I told her I was glad she was safe, but at that moment thirteen hungry people were waiting on me, so I didn’t take time to elaborate. The chili was hot, but she still had a while to stew.
The Husbands finally returned a little after 9:30 (note the party times) to a noisy house and riled up kids, hungry but in good humor. A little guy bonding time appeared to have done them good. An hour or so later, they were still at the table laughing, while the Downton Abbey contingent had retired to the living room.
Did I mention I was still sneezing?
Since we had already told the youngest that we might end up having a big sleepover, they were pretty disappointed when informed that wouldn’t be the plan. As much as I love my friends, I gotta say, I was relieved. It had been a long day. But I felt bad about it too: Big Johnny & Family had another forty minutes to drive, and another icy driveway to walk up in the dark. We sent them on their way with prayers and leftover chili.
Do-over party at their house later in the week....
Note* This account, though it leaves out several painful details. is entirely accurate --- except that it neglected to say that I am blessed with some amazing friends who, despite my whining, still want me around. Thanks you guys!