We have had a series of houseguests since early June. It will go on pretty strong til mid-July. One of our neighbors recently told me, as our current group of guests go on their eleventh day, that houseguests are like fish–they should be thrown out after three days.
Monona lends itself to hosting houseguests. Summer is the time when people seem to visit the most. This time of year, as we approach the Fourth of July Festival, carnival and fireworks display, our modest three-bedroom ranch takes on the life of a hotel.
Over the years there have some big adventures within these walls. A few awkward moments also as our family of seven shares one bathroom with our series of houseguests.
Some guests bring their pets. More than once we have run through yards after a wayward dog, getting to know our neighbors better than we should. Once a guest insisted on keeping his dog on a leash in our home the entire time because we do not have a fence around our property. A large dog kennel took over our bedroom for several visits.
Most of our guests bring children. We had anxious first-time parents who insisted no fans run during the entire time they stayed–because the fans would disturb the baby. A surprise to us as our five kids slept through anything. It was a summer visit, quite warm. Long after a group left the smell we had been wondering about turned out to be a meal children with one group did not like. They had shoved plates of it behind the sofa on the three-season porch. Many a teenage drama played out before us over the years.
We have had several types of guests over the years.
There are the ‘spare-of-the- moment guests’ who phone that they are on their way from the road. Could we please have a spread of food waiting? These calls have come often, sometimes at two in the morning.
The ‘reluctant guest’ is hesitant to come. They must be convinced. When it is time to leave there is always a long goodbye, sometimes taking several days as they extend their stay.
We have had the ‘Bring Along’ guests who had to bring extra people with them. It was impossible to leave anyone out of the plans. We found room, of course.
There are the ‘Early Drivers’ who insist on waking the entire house so we will all be able to stand in the driveway to wave goodbye–at three in the morning. They prefer to drive when there is little traffic. Blinking away sleep, holding off tempers, gather to see them off we do.
But there is always fun to be had.
For years snow we saved from winter was made into snowballs on a hot July Day. Countless Christmas trees were decorated, patriotic often, for Christmas in July celebrations. We have stayed up all night changing the themes in the house from Halloween to Thanksgiving then Christmas to get in all the holidays we would miss together. Valentine’s Day bled into Saint Patrick’s Day one year in a long weekend visit that ended with an Easter Egg Hunt.
Our guests have gone with the flow.
One Fourth of July when the temps were near a hundred the entire time our air conditioner was not working. We took turns taking car rides, desperate to find reason to leave the house, for a bit of relief. A flood in the bathroom, caused by a diaper stuffed down the toilet, rushed into the hallway and foyer over the wood floors. Guests helped clean up. When freezing rain hit we had guests helping to chip ice from the driveway. One weekend guests built a room in the basement for us.
Having so many guests has perks. We have experienced Monona and Madison through the eyes of visitors. That always leaves us in a bit of awe over where we live.
Houseguests might be like fish–best thrown out after three days. But in the end we find ourselves like the woman with many children who forgets the pain of childbirth. After it is all said and done we are exhausted and worse for wear muttering we will never do it again…until next time.