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Location: Northern California

Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Sunday, November 27, 2005


The houseguests are coming! The houseguests are coming!

Oh, the houseguests. Those people we thought we wanted to have come and stay at our house until they came and stayed at our house. Oh, the joy. Oh, the pain. Oh, the houseguests.

If you're like me then you have a love/hate relationship with houseguests. That is, you love the idea of having houseguests but you hate the reality of having them. You alternate between loving them hating yourself; loving yourself hating them; hating yourself hating them; and in those rare sweet moments, loving yourself loving them.

You might be asking yourself, is it okay to feel this way?

Sure it is! I mean, let's face it. It's hard to have other people in your home. You don't realize how set in your ways you are until somebody comes and wants to do things (gasp!) a different way. And I'm not talking about major things, like calling your children by names other than the ones you picked out. I'm talking about minor things, like whether the kitchen sponge lives under the sink or next to the faucet.

Things that when done differently can drive you over the river and through the snow and straight to the nut house, where you suspect there are no houseguests and that's why you want to go there.

Remember when you had houseguests in college? You probably don’t. In those days, people who crashed at your place weren't called houseguests. They were called either your roommate's boyfriend or the guy who passed out on your couch after the party. They ate all your food, used your towel when they took a shower, and paid no rent.

Things haven't changed much since then, have they?

Except now houseguests are people you actually care about; you want them to come visit you. So what's the problem? Is it because they aren't coming to visit you? When was it you realized that no matter how much you clean and cook and spray the furniture with Febreze, you are basically a dim bulb compared to that bright light situated second row, center car seat.

That's right. At this stage of the game you've been upstaged by your child. Move over, rover.

I try and put this whole houseguest thing in perspective. After all, it's good for my kids to get to know their extended family. And I benefit from having houseguests because they do make my house look good. Not because they come wearing a work belt and slinging a cordless drill, but because the mere idea that people from the outside will be stepping foot inside my house sends me on a spree of cleaning, shopping, organizing, and decorating.

For example, because next week we’ll have houseguests, this weekend Mike and I hung a combination shelving unit/hand towel bar that’s been sitting in the closet for a year and a half; we turned the house into a Christmas wonderland; we got rid of all of the plastic boxes of old clothes that were lining the perimeter of our bedroom; and I even organized my underwear and sock drawer (You never know where a houseguest might look!)

As I sit here in anxious anticipation of the arrival of our guests, our house has never looked so good. I'm rehearsing my houseguest relaxation mantras: "It's okay; you can move the sponge when they leave," and "Don't say anything; just keep smiling." No matter how much I tell them we're soon going to have visitors, the kids seem oblivious to it. I'm sure they're excited on the inside. Me, I just have one more closet to clean and I think I'll be ready.

Can you tell I'm smiling already?