Only one month to recover for Xmas
All five of the great-grandchildren were present. So were all nine grandchildren. Mom & Dad had a full house of family members. By the time you added in the various spouses and the cousin with no place else to go, over two dozen people were jockeying for position at the dinner tables—of which there were three.
We have the big holiday meal in the middle of the day. As usual, it began without the benefit of either a starter's pistol or bowing our heads to say grace. (I am not complaining.) People started helping themselves as the heaping platters arrived on the tables and it was every man, woman, or child for him- or herself. Though, to be fair, some of the smaller family members were tucked in next to parents who fed them. Occasionally a dinner roll arced over the tables in response to a request. The bread-tossing irks me more than it probably should and I was considered a spoil-sport for merely handing someone a roll instead of tossing it to them.
The grandchildren and great-grandchildren ranged in age from 32 to zero. The newest grandchild is actually younger than some of the great-grandchildren. I said to the college-age niece sitting next to me that “We ought to consider putting nametags on all of them.” She sweetly replied, “Some of us aren't so old, Uncle Zee, that we can't keep track of the family members.”
Of course, when she later asked her beloved uncle to pass the mashed potatoes, I said, “Oh, honey, I'm afraid I'm too old to stretch out my arm that far.” We struck a truce and she got her potatoes.
Little B, one of the two-year-old great-grandsons, is in a babbling phase. He keeps up a semi-comprehensible running commentary on his activities and observations. There are occasional complications. Little B has learned the names of the dining utensils, but still has problems with pronunciation. His manner of saying “fork” is particularly unfortunate. He recently dropped his fork at a restaurant and burst out with “Oh, fork!” Every head in the place swiveled toward the apparently profane toddler while his father grinned and his mother turned bright red.
We were not treated to a re-enactment during Thanksgiving dinner and I think a few people were disappointed.
The family was all on its best behavior in honor of the holiday, so most snide remarks were politely delivered behind people's backs rather than to their faces. Dad occasionally forgets this rule, however, and delivers his blasts directly. When a family member noted the extremely crowded condition of Mom & Dad's dining area and suggested a change of venue next year to the large space of his enclosed back-porch recreation room, Dad was duly appreciative: “Yeah, that would be great. Just like eating in a barn.”
That's a kind of executive veto. The family member fell quiet for the rest of the meal.
Later people began to disperse to various locations in front of the television or outside in the yard. My parents observed that Little B's parents took turns accompanying him as he wandered amongst the leaves under the walnut tree and took delight in picking up and tossing random walnuts.
“They watch that kid every second,” they commented. “They hover over him like a hawk.”
It is their considered opinion that their great-grandson is being smothered by this overweening parental solicitude. They repeated this every time the parents moved out of earshot.
While Little B was playing under this oppressive supervision, his contemporary second cousin, Little Z, was strolling about while munching on a banana. Someone eventually noticed that he had discovered Mom & Dad's fly abattoir, a low bench next to the house on which they had sprinkled a thick layer of red crystal insecticide. In the fly-infested environment of a working dairy, it had quickly acquired piles of dead insects atop the poison crystals. Little Z stuck his banana into the mix. Who wouldn't like a banana with red sprinkles and dead flies?
Someone noticed before he could sample his confectionary creation. At least, we think it was before. His mother peered into his mouth for signs of red and interrogated the little man whether he had tasted the poison. Little Z denied that he had with a stubborn expression suggesting he wished he had acted more quickly. Thereafter he was watched as closely as Little B. It turned out that Little Z was still able to play despite the fact that people had their eyes on him.
I suggested to my parents that they relocate their fly trap out of the reach of their great-grandchildren. They professed surprise that toddlers would go anywhere near it.
Who are these people?