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Heidi Thurston: The holiday break

It was not quite like waiting for school to begin at the end of summer, but it came awfully close.
This was some time ago when our children were in their late teens and home from college on their holiday break. I am sure, not much has changed since then.
Toward the end of those Christmas breaks I, and most mothers (and some fathers) had generally had it with buying everything in quantities, avoiding the delicatessen section of the grocery stores and going to the thrift shops for a dozen loaves of bread more than once a week.
I used to encourage fellow parents of college students to “Hang in there; the Christmas break is almost over and the time nears when we can again purchase imported shrimp — or at least tender tuna steaks — and buy fruit for the week and have it last more than a couple of hours.
You can also begin to fumigate the house from the smell of peanut butter, and return to quiet dinners.”
By early December, I could hardly wait for my sons to come home for their visits.
I longed to see their smiling faces, hear their deep voices booming through the house and watch them sit around chatting with us and their sister during dinner and leisurely evenings.
The problem was that after the first 24 hours, they began to feel the need to go shopping, visit friends, go on a date, and/or movie, and from then on I was just left with an empty refrigerator and loads of dirty laundry.
Sure, they spent time with us — when they needed the car, or money, or when the time came to list things needed for their next semester.
Whenever I inspected the refrigerator, however, I at least knew they had been around, unless some bicarbonate soda had devoured all the food I recently bought and placed inside.
Just as I had gotten used to clean towels, dry bathmats and mirrors actually visible, the soggy towels, muddy mats and stained mirrors now stared me in the face again.
While they were away at college, shopping had become interesting allowing me to buy choice cuts of meat, and other delicacies.
Now it turned into trips bringing home quantities of bread and baloney. And there was absolutely no sense in buying things like French liver pate.
I did it once, only to have the boys tell me they had “helped,” by throwing out “that awful smelling stuff in the funny little can — “you didn’t want that anyway, did you mom?”
Quiet dinners became debating sessions over who got my car that night, or into resemblance of Walton Family reunion dinners with friends from all over staying for a bite to eat.
Our ‘before dinner drink,’ quietly enjoyed while talking over our day, turned into battle scenes since the kids all wanted to watch different game shows and we — like most others back then — only had one television set.
But soon, all too soon, they left and we could again take out the cocktail glasses, light the candles for dinner and put on soft music.
We would listen to the quiet, and then realize that now that they were gone, we missed them and wished they’d come back again — soon.
As parents you don’t always win, but if you are lucky you may break even and enjoy your children while they are home and for as long as you can.
Have a great New Year.
Heidi Thurston lives in Kannapolis.

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