2018-01-03 / Home and Garden

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Sixteen pairs of shoes, one bathroom, no problem
By TORY DENIS

A great big pile of shoes by the front door means a cozy household for the holidays, and memories to make. A great big pile of shoes by the front door means a cozy household for the holidays, and memories to make.

I recently came across a photo I took, many years ago, that shows about eight or nine little socks, all fanned out along the edge of a wicker laundry basket. They were all in different shades of pinks and reds, some with flowers, some with stripes. I had been matching socks —something one does often, when raising three active young children — and had found myself laughing at this absurd little pile of unmatchable socks. It was, at that moment, the epitome of motherhood. That photo still makes me chuckle now.

Fast forward about 12 years or so. This holiday season, we had not just one grown kid, but actually three out of our combined-family’s five grown kids, plus one girlfriend, staying with us in our cozy little apartment over Christmastime.

It has been amazingly quiet (I suppose that is the difference between all of them 12 years ago, and now … the noise level!), but it’s still been bustling at home all week, where we manage to criss-cross the living room like professional circus performers, with not one collision to date. It’s been, as my husband describes it, “a lot of pizza boxes.”

We have also been sharing one bathroom, with miraculously few urgent door-banging incidents, or any trips to use our “second bathroom” at a nearby convenience store. They’ve all been great sports, in fact.

Christmas morning was both complete chaos and a complete joy. For breakfast, there were warm cinnamon buns, their family tradition, and French / Acadian ployes with cretons, our family tradition. There was hot coffee, eggnog, and the family dog buried under a blanket, peeking at them, because she has to be wherever they are.

The Dad of the House and I got to sit and watch them — these tall, grown adults in colorful pajamas and big smiles — open presents on the living room floor, slowly building Mount Trashmore out of the boxes and paper, all grinning because they had each spent a little time thoughtfully and generously picking out presents for one another.

Time seemed to slow that morning, and a little bit this week as well, as we quietly spend precious time with all of these “kids” who have all grown into truly good, productive, thoughtful people. I also had a chance to visit my older two, and my grandchildren, and to see my little 5-year-old grandson’s first-ever school holiday play.

The grown kids home from school this Christmas have been relishing the break from college and a couple of days off work, and we have been enjoying the time, so hard to find these days, that they get to spend with one another. And the memories they are creating right now, even if they don’t know it yet.

And so, as I walked from our little kitchen into the living room the other day, and had to push several pairs of shoes out of the hallway and back onto the shoe mat, I smiled. And I paused my baking/cleaning/supermom mode for two minutes to slow down, and to take a photo. There must have been 16 pairs of shoes and boots and flip-flops (yes, even in winter).

And my very slight split-second annoyance at having to move those shoes out of the way just melted, immediately, into a moment of thankfulness. I was grateful, for it meant another day of tripping over one another, another day of laughter, board games and movies, lounging in PJs, and of being cozy at home. And another few days to create memories to keep.

We sure will miss them when they go back.     

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