Samantha is Coming!

Company is coming. I feel a bit like Paul Revere and his midnight ride, galloping through the streets, warning of the pending arrival of the British. Though he is attributed to shouting his warning, it was actually a far more clandestine approach of alertness, but I digress.

A slice of my family is coming for a visit, complete with two wee grandsons and I can scarcely believe it. I find myself holding back the excitement in the event that Covid, at the last minute, will raise its ugly arm to block their safe passage from their home to mine. I feel as though I am running on the spot while I wait, flapping my arms as if I might take flight.

Every day, I make lists and every day I go to the grocery store. I know, it sounds excessive. It is. I live in the woods so “being prepared” takes on new meaning. But gee, I ask myself as I carry in bag after bag of food – Who exactly am I feeding? A small nation it seems. And because I haven’t seen my family for almost two years, I am making that fatal error of thinking everything needs to be perfect. I’ve made butter tarts and rice krispie squares and I have a far greater inventory of sidewalk chalk and water balloons and bubbles than will ever be used. They are not able to stay for many days and the sad truth is my freezer will not get emptied while they are here but still, I bake and buy and bake some more. I can’t help myself.

My family is spread out across the country, literally from coast to coast, and though that is common in today’s society with people on the move, I envy families who are within arm’s reach or certainly a short drive apart. It is a rare gift, for sure.

We put a lot of our memories into food, with the likes of special cakes and pies and desserts. I’ve never once set out a tray of vegetables and had people squeal with delight. “Oh, just like Grandma used to make.” The burden of delight falls onto Billy Miner Pie and German Pancakes and BBQ ribs, recipes I never had to glance at but now must dig through my papers to find. My grandmother’s butterscotch pie was my favourite when I was a child, the ingredients including “butter the size of an egg”. So much of our childhood memories involve sitting around the table, everyone talking, everyone eager to share and trying to be heard. Breakfasts at my aunt’s house in Winnipeg involved the cousins having our morning cereal behind a bastion of cereal boxes, Alpha Bits, Sugar Crisp, Frosted Flakes, Captain Crunch, with not a bran cereal in sight, each of us hoping to be the one to dig out the prize in the cereal box and not the least bit worried about the sugar content. Ahh, the good old days. We weren’t allowed to eat before bed at our house but while we were at my aunt’s house, all the cereal boxes came back out and we filled our tummies after a hectic day of playing pretend before plodding off to bed.

I wonder what my grandchildren will remember about coming to my house, if anything at all. I want it to feel like an adventure. I want it to be fun filled, with laughter and excitement, of roasting marshmallows and poking at the fire with a stick, of swimming and playing in the sand. Mostly, I hope it feels like coming home, willing to let me wrap my arms and love around them and wish they never had to leave. But leave they will, back to their busy lives with baseball games and learning to read and getting into mischief. I hope while they are here, they fall asleep at night with a sense of blissful contentment, so very glad they came. And I hope they come back again soon.

wendistewart@live.ca