Monday, October 6, 2008

Good Friends, Good Times

I am ready to write about something other than politics. In fact I am today writing about something much more important -- the goings on in my family.

Older Son is a recent graduate of Auburn University and Daughter is now a sophomore there. Auburn played Vanderbilt this past Saturday (and, unfortunately, lost). We live about 20 minutes from the Vandy campus so we were a perfect stopping-off place for college friends old and new.

Well we were much more than a stopping-off place. They started drifting in mid-day Friday. By the time Wife and I left for Younger Son’s football game about 6 p.m., there were about a half dozen or so. Wife had made two big pots of soup which we left in the able hands of Older Son and Daughter to distribute.

We dropped by after the game. To say the numbers had swelled is an understatement. People were everywhere. The former pots of soup were bone dry. Several nice looking young ladies were engaged in a game of pool in the playroom. A couple of nice looking young men were not far away watching, generously offering their assistance. Several sat at the kitchen table nibbling on brownies. One young man asked Daughter what she was doing here, allowing as to how he knew both her and her older brother and had been invited by the latter, but did not know the two were related.

Younger Son stood firmly and said he was not leaving but Wife and I, when we had begun hearing of the possible numbers, had made arrangements to sleep at some friends’ house. We felt somewhat like the hired help, getting things cleaned up then leaving to go to our temporary quarters about 11:30 p.m.

We returned Saturday morning. We did not do an official body count but the estimate was about 25 sleeping at the house. Every bed and sofa was occupied. Makeshift arrangements of sleeping bags and recliners were in use also. We assigned boys’ and girls’ bathrooms and the only disagreements we heard were as to whose turn it was in the shower.

By lunchtime Saturday things were in full swing. We set up our tailgate tent in the backyard and set up a long table and chairs under a tree. It was a pretty warm day here in Middle Tennessee, so most opted to stay inside in the air conditioning. Other college football games were being broadcast so the hardcore football fans did not stray far from the TV. We think we served about 40 in all.

Older Son’s fraternity brothers and friends of legal age brought their ice chests with libations, which were confined to the back deck. I did not check IDs but invoked the honor and trust system that has, for the most part, served me well since becoming a dad nearly 23 years ago. And best I could tell nothing got out of hand. We made sure there were designated drivers when it came time to go to the football game which had a 5 p.m. kickoff.

Though the game had a poor outcome for us, the fun at our house continued. Wife and I again did the late night cleanup and she rolled out her famous homemade cinnamon rolls to rise overnight. We again went to our friends’ house to sleep, then returned Sunday morning to start baking. As the smell drifted through the house, bodies began to rise and make their way to the kitchen. I will tell with you with no hesitation that one of Wife’s cinnamon rolls just out of the oven with a cold glass of milk will bring tears to your eyes. You can’t do it every morning if you don’t want to gain a zillion pounds and see your cholesterol skyrocket, but for an occasional treat, oh my, it is sheer heaven.

The exits began mid-morning and by early afternoon most of them were gone. Older Son quickly went into cleanup mode, as much, I think, to assuage the twinge of sadness he feels that these friends are no longer a part of his everyday life, as to help us. But what a great heritage he has and, knowing his personality as I do, I know many of these friendships will remain strong.

Wife and I were worn out last night but also extremely gratified. We have made a lot of mistakes – more than we would care to count -- as we have been parents to three children, but one of the things we did right was to make a decision years ago to invest in their relationships and get to know their friends. It’s costly in more ways than one. Our house needs painting and we desperately need new carpet and I’m sure some of the people noticed that over the weekend. But as they left yesterday, hugging us and vowing to return, I don’t think those things were uppermost in their minds.

What I hope they will remember, and what I know I will remember one day when this house screams with quietness, is a home filled with laughter and good cheer, good food and good times. Memories of such things last a lifetime.


Redlefty said...

Hospitality -- one of the absolute most important, and most lacking, tenets of a great society!

And I can imagine that some of those visitors didn't have the experience of growing up in a home as loving and generous as yours. So you are giving them a real example from which they may be able to start a new legacy with their own generation and overcome the baggage of their past.

Fantastic weekend!

(got any cinnamon rolls left?)

quid said...

How much fun was this? Invite us all next year.

Seriously, it is wonderful for your kids, no matter what age, to feel the comfort and hospitality of a great home.


Pam said...

Bob, I agree with red and quid! What a wonderful feeling I got from reading this post!

Yep, your kids will have great memories of their loving and generous home and family!!

Left me with a smile!

Kelly said...

What a heart-warming post!!

Knowing what an outstanding hostess your wife is (and you're a great host, too, Bob!), I'm not surprised that folks always feel welcome and comfortable in your home.

Mmmm....I'm still imagining one of those cinnamon rolls!

Bob Barbanes said...

Bob, of all the things we learn on the road to adulthood, the importance of nurturing *real* friends is often overlooked but incredibly important as you well know. Not just drinking-buddies, either - we've all got plenty of those. It's great that you're teaching your kids that lesson, as well as demonstrating world-class hospitality that we could all emulate.

I'm sure that none of the guests even noticed the carpet or the paint. Kids of that age only notice things like when the beer or food runs out.

It sounds like a wonderful party. (Beer? Football? Cinnamon rolls? OH YEAH!) Your wife (and kids) and you deserve a lot of credit for hosting it. Wish I'd been there to "help out."

Great story :) Great example of why I like to read blogs so much.

P.S. Sorry about the loss to Vandy, but it wasn't really unexpected was it? By the same token, I was in Tuscaloosa for the Alabama/Kentucky game, and we won!

P.S./2 What kind of soup?

Bob said...

Yes this is definitely Bama's year, Bob. Come Nov. 29 I am afraid it won't be 7 in a row. What goes around definitely bomes around. Maybe we could meet at an Iron Bowl in the future???

One pot of soup was taco, the other mushroom.