With 2 kids, dog and stalker cat, Christmas poses logistical problems

LEXINGTON, Mass. — Our three-bedroom, two-story Colonial usually has ample space for Kathy and me.  But when both our daughters and their kids arrive next week, things could get interesting.

Mind you, even our day-to-day life isn’t without its quirks.  We’ve screwed a hook lock onto the outside of each of the bedroom doors upstairs. This is for times when our 3-year-old grand-daughter Devon visits and we play musical cat, temporarily storing our tabby Calvin wherever he may lie.  Calvin, to put it kindly, has a rambunctious nature. He has a habit of pouncing at our ankles in the middle of the night and has been known to skin the hands of visitors who reach for him too quickly.  So we keep him out of Devon’s reach.

Downstairs offers its logistical challenges, too. We carry an expandable and retractable gate from room to room to herd Murphy, our golden retriever, as needed.

Usually we keep Murphy in the kitchen and dining room. (This is the widest of three gate settings, carefully identified in black magic marker by my meticulous wife.) At night, Murphy moves into the all-weather sun-porch (setting two), where he sleeps on our old couch, the only bed, so far, that he has chosen not to eat.  Murphy is 2, and he is improving. But leave him for a moment and he’ll likely show up with a sponge or a Lego in his mouth, if that is, he hasn’t already swallowed it.

Murphy also tries to eat Calvin who, thank goodness, has not scratched his eyes out. That’s because Calvin actually considers himself a dog; he was a kitten when our last goldie, Casey, was still alive, and imitated everything Casey did.

Calvin, however, has not fooled Murphy, so most of the time we keep them apart, too.

All these carefully constructed plans are likely to collapse next Thursday. That’s when Betsy, our older daughter, will arrive with her guy, Turp, and her little guy, 5-month-old Dylan, a bruiser in the 95th percentile for height and weight, but nonetheless a little bruiser who is probably best off steering clear of attack cats.  It’s also the night Meghan, our other daughter, and Devon, will move back home for a few days, too.

Though Meg and Devon live nearby, we’re all up for a little family bonding.  I’d like that bonding, however, to exclude poor Calvin, who I’m thinking we’ll lock in our bedroom. That should be fine by day, but at night we may need to wear ankle protection.

As for Murphy, I’m thinking he’d better stay in the kitchen and dining room so that the tree remains upright and he doesn’t eat any glass ornaments.

Whew, I’m already tired. At least the fireplace, in the still unfettered living room, should remain clear so that Santa can deliver his good cheer.

About jerrylanson

I teach, write, coach and sing, though you're not required to listen to the latter. I'm a journalism professor at Emerson College in Boston. My third book, "Writing for Others, Writing for Ourselves," was published in November by Rowman & Littlefield Publishing. You can read a sample chapter at www.jerrylanson.com. My passions are politics (generally liberal in outlook), music, mountains, golden retrievers and my grandchildren, though not in that order. Please stop by and mix it up with me. I always answer those who post.
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