My in-laws will be strapping themselves into their seats in just a few hours, heading west toward our happy little homestead for a holiday celebration. The children are looking forward to the visit; we have a handful of traditions that have evolved over the five years of trans-continental visits, and my children are nothing if not sticklers for tradition. This is something that they inherited from dh's side of the family, because mine, as a whole, is a rather take-it-or-leave-it kind of crew that focuses less on the semantics of how a holiday is celebrated and more on the fact that there's something "good" on t.v. in half an hour.
Being the chameleon that I am in these situations, I give lots of leeway to those people who do feel cheated if something isn't the way it should be. I tend to just go along for the ride and try to smooth out the inevitable wrinkles as they come up.
Tradition number #1 for in-laws visits is a trip to a bowling alley. Desperate for an alternative to sitting around our living room and staring at one another on a particularly rainy, windy NW afternoon five years ago, dh seized upon the idea of taking the kids for their first-ever bowling excursion. This idea was a huge hit with my in-laws, who are always up for anything that has the words "first-ever" in front of it. We carted the children off the the only smoke-free bowling alley we could find in the area (they are all smoke-free now) and had a blast. The children loved dropping six pound balls SMACK onto the delicate, polished wood lanes, the in-laws loved the fact that there were french fries and burgers on hand and I loved not wondering if I should have repainted the entire house before they came.
Tradition #2 is dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory. This goes back to dh's childhood, where an Old Spaghetti Factory restaurant was located near the major league baseball stadium in his hometown. The entire family would gather for dinner before a game. While we have yet to attend a baseball game up here with the in-laws (they visit in the off-season), we can at least indulge the dinner part.
Tradition #3 is the heated debate over the validity of homeschooling. I'm fairly certain that no one enjoys this one, but we revisit it annually just in case that's changed.
Tradition #4 is a day trip. In the past we've hit themed villages, travelled to museums and gone shopping in the downtown areas. I'm not certain what this week's big trip will be, but I know it will be something.
You'll notice a prolonged absence as of tomorrow on this blog, mainly because I won't have the chance to write down the gazillion things that I'll need to blow off steam about. Think of me as you celebrate Thanksgiving, especially if your turkey ends up resembling an oblong bowling ball. :-)