The season for family madness

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 28, 2007

I’ll admit it, I do get homesick.

I miss many things about New York, my friends, the snow, apple orchards, the loudmouths and those that I’m so fortunate enough to share genes with.

My family is your typical Yankee family; we’re loud, we’re proud and with each gathering that occurs you can bet on someone starting an argument, someone drinking too much and someone swearing they’ll never speak to anyone in the family again.

As they have on past holidays, Mom and Aunt Dolly have made their way to North Carolina to visit me.

And as they have visited each time, chaos has erupted in my tiny rental home.

Their arrival came last Sunday afternoon and like that scene from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” where the Griswold’s extended family arrives, that door bell sound slowly going an octave lower went off in my head. The invasion had begun.

Of course, with their arrival was the unceremonious hauling in of various packages and suitcases, the ultimate signal that my house would not be mine for at least two weeks.

After the dust settles from that venture comes the close inspection of every corner in my home.

There’s a reason why I’m a journalist, I’m nosey…and like every good offspring, I inherited that characteristic from my mom. My aunt, who is my mom’s sister, also shares this trait. They mean well, but if you have business they will happily get into it.

The inspection begins relatively quietly; one will make a beeline for the back of the house while the other stands her ground in the front. This obviously places me in a pickle as I’m not able to keep an eye on both.

Along with a swipe of a finger across a shelf and the opening of a closed door come the comments:

“Oh, this is dusty.”

“Oh, you changed this…it looks nice, but I would have put it this way.”

“It looks bigger in here…why does it look bigger? What did you do?”

“Why did you place this here? You should have placed it there.”

Over the next few days my home slowly begins to transform. Items mysteriously disappear and reappear in a different area.

When I go to throw a banana peel away, the kitchen garbage is suddenly gone from its regular spot.

The soap in the bathroom will be on the opposite side of the sink. Food and dishes in cupboards seemingly teleport themselves to a different cabinet.

There have been times furniture has been re-arranged as well.

With this re-arranging comes mayhem and soon enough I cannot find anything in my house. The whole universe may as well be out of whack with the sun circling the moon.

With Doomsday evidently approaching at the homestead, the office seems to be my form and area of solitude. But then the phone calls begin.

In fact one of those calls came while writing this column. Aunt Dolly was on the other side, declaring she had broken the television.

A flash of her dropping the T.V. in the middle of the living room during one of her re-arranging spells rolled through my head.

My panic was eased as she said the screen had gone black after her and my mom “hit too many buttons.” They had simply confused the DVR as they had with the rest of the things in my home, me included.

After a few more moments of confusion, the simple push of the power button on the DVR remote rendered a picture on the blank screen…all was well once again in their universe.

As for my universe…the jury is still out as to whether or not I’ll be committed at the end of this visit.

Family you can’t live with them and you can’t live without them.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: or call (252) 332-7209.