1) Remember your father-in-law's birthday is coming up about a month beforehand.
2) Think about how nice he and your mother-in-law are, and how sad it is that nobody else has offered to do anything yet.
3) Thoughtfully offer out loud to host a brunch on the Sunday his birthday falls on.
4) Realize that people heard you and that you really have to do it.
5) Forget all about it for the most part for a few weeks.
6) Except when you can't sleep at night, then lay awake and think about all you have to do to get ready for this.
7) Which includes renovating the entire house.
8) About a week before, ask your mother and father to come, because they'd love a visit and it's far more tolerable to have them around when there are others to distract them.
9) Accept their offer to bring a seventeen pound ham, and ask them to bring your favourite coffee, some Jiffy corn muffin mix, and some of that FABULOUS new underwear you got at Target on your last trip, and two more of those bras that fit really well.
9 1/2) You couldn't know that you would love that underwear and those bras so much until you got them home and wore and washed them a few times to see if they'd stay wonderful. And they did!
10) Don't care that your Father went to Target to buy your underwear and a few bras.
11) Refuse everyone else's offers to bring things, because they're always things that either don't go with the rest of the meal you've prepared or they require cooking upon arrival when the oven and stovetop are already full.
12) Decide the first priority is buying decorative cabbages and flowering kale for your flowerpots. The back yard looks so dingy!
13) Be glad the neighbours on both sides have the most amazing Morning Glories that cover the fences, so it looks like WE have the nice garden!
14) (Edited in later, thanks to a gentle nudge) Remember to let it drop during the party how much you like the "patina" the vintage metal outdoor furniture has developed and how much more valuable it is because of it; because really there just wasn't time to sand and touch up the rusty spots. Also buy larger serving dishes from the Dollar store, because your mom said she's making her cream puffs, and since there are never cream puffs in your house, you have nothing sufficient to put them on. Also, wonder why people like your mother's cream puffs so much. They're just wads of dough she bakes the night before and then they are stuffed with canned vanilla pudding and crappy store bought chocolate frosting both of which are sold in unrecyclable containers. Think back about how she used to make every componant of them from scratch and how good they used to be back then, and now she cheats on everything. She won't even bake real yams for holiday dinners any more - she uses canned stuff there too. Mourn the loss of more things from your childhood.
15) Let lots of dog poo accumulate for a week, because you're going to have to do a big good cleanup the day before anyway. Then make your husband do it.
16) Decide when it gets dark the night before that it is the perfect time for your husband, who is hosing off the poopy deck, to try that Windex stuff for outside windows that attaches to the garden hose and pray he don't break any panes with it. It looks like it works fine...until you look at them in the morning. Think about calling a window washer some day.
17) Buy a 1959 Westinghouse refrigerator to replace your 1954 Frigidaire, and have to clean it, replace the cord, and re-fill it within the week before the party.
18) Have trouble finding any friends to help you move the old fridge out of the kitchen.
18 1/2) Because after you move one of those old fridges, you have to let it sit for twenty-four hours before you plug it in - so they friend who helped move it there isn't around to do it. But the two fridges in the kitchen are taking up too much room. One HAS to go.
19) You and your husband get the old fridge stuck in the stairway to the basement, and realize it will have to sit there through the party because the two of you are too weak and uncoordinated to move it downstairs yourselves; and the men who are coming to the party are either fourteen, the birthday boy who is seventy-five and only has one lung and diabetes, newlywed to Steve's cousin and having a bad back, or your teenaged niece's new boyfriend who is an unknown entity - or your father, who will be depicted unflatteringly later in this post.
20) Cut your daughter's hair in bangs so that the large yellow bruise that remains from the goose egg she got a week ago Monday doesn't show so much. Remember to remind your mother-in-law that she's babysitting Monday night for your infant and toddler first aid class at the Ella Centre.
21) Go get your hair cut into a really short, but really peppy and swingy bob the day before, for only thirty dollars from the nice lady named Orchid at the barbershop near the store you work at - and don't cry about it! Hooray!
22) Go and buy a crazy amount of groceries, sneaking in things like mini bagels and mini croissants supposedly for the party - but really because you've been dying to try them because they'd be so easy to feed Josephine. Throw in some raspberries for yourself, and pretty napkins.
23) Realize it's probably going to rain, so you'd better make plans for eighteen people to spend a few hours in your living room.
23 1/2) Your living/dining room is less than 400 square feet.
23 3/4) And it's desperately in need of renovation, a sickly green colour you half-sanded off in a fit of pique during your pregnancy, and attached to your gross hallway with the dirty stairs.
24) Realize that dramatic lighting and flowers is the best way to not have to dust. Smoke and Mirrors! Smoke and Mirrors! That, and spike the orange juice.
25) Place your awesome birthday present from your husband where everyone is sure to see it and compliment it, making him look like a great guy in front of his family, especially his sister who just broke up with her boyfriend of six years.
26) Be grateful that it stops raining just in time to shoo everyone outside.
27) His sister arrives with an appetizer (um, chips and dip) and asks where the microwave is so she can cook the dip.
28) Explain smugly that we don't have a microwave. Have the reason that "I always cook fresh healthy meals for my family and turn leftovers into other delicious fixin's instead of reheating them" ready, because it's not the time to explain your beliefs that microwaves alter the molecular structure of food and may be doing us all great harm.
29) Be glad that the house is clean enough, the backyard is dry (enough, with a few vinyl tablecloths) and the food is delicious and everyone is having a good time.
30) Except for your father, who with his bad back claims he can't sit anywhere but this one chair, where he spends the afternoon napping while everyone is outside having fun. Beauty naps beside him, stuffed full of all of the food she has been given "just one bite" of (ham, bacon, sausage, eggs with cheese, eggs with cheese, red peppers, jalapeno peppers and green onions, crossants, bagels both wheat and plain, banana muffins, chocolate chip muffins, coffee cake, mesclun salad with mandarin oranges and raspberry dressing, sliced watermelon, fruit salad, Krispy Kreme donuts, and a strawberry-chocolate charlotte); her bloated carcass off-gassing it fitfully.
31) Realize that the reason Josephine is afraid of your father is because she has probably seen him napping. Sweet Jesus! He looks like a CORPSE!
32) Speaking of Jesus, make sure the Louvin Brothers "Satan is Real" CD is in rotation, and feel smug when the supposedly religious microwavable dip bringing sister is a little freaked by it.
33) Be glad when everyone is finally leaving. You've been looking forward to this part ever since the words "We'll host a brunch for Glen's birthday" left your mouth a month ago.
34) Run the dishwasher, but forget to put the soap in.
35) Let your husband and mother empty it, even though the dishes are not clean enough and should be run again, simply because you get creeped out by your fingers squeaking on clean glasses. Avoidance is cheaper than therapy.
35 1/2) Let your mother observe your husband washing the dishes, so that she knows he is a good husband, even though he only gets the dishes "boy clean" and not "girl clean". Tell her you value his help, and that you wouldn't diminish his efforts by criticizing him. (Silently thinking, "in front of them...I'll get him later!")
36) After everyone has gone, sit around with your parents and watch Josephine open her new present - of course it is the kind that only grandparents would buy.
37) A kid-sized Hoover vacuum cleaner that really sucks up stuff and takes four batteries that cost a quarter of what the toy retails for - sheesh.
38) Wonder when household drudgery became "fun".
39) Try not to cackle with glee or feel bitter due to the association when it is pushed into my hands by Josephine, who proclaims "Mommy a-cuums." and takes off to go play with the box, ignoring it for the rest of their visit.
40) Say good-bye to the parents, unscrew the cap from the warm white wine and pour a glass to be consumed while doing the rest of the clean-up.
41) Immediately get a sulphite wine headache.
42) Listen to all of the gossip I missed during the party, including the part where my mom told Steve my father had another "spell" (where he gets dizzy and passes out) at the track, and this occurred three weeks ago.
43) Don't care that I wasn't told, but care that I don't care, that he gets right back in that car after his hospital visit, and so does she - and he continues to drive a liveried car with passengers as his job despite his condition.
44) Go to bed early in order enjoy reading the magazines we subscribe that are delivered to Buffalo (because it is So. Much. Cheaper. to do so than it is to subscribe or buy them individually in Canada). Notice how much new haircut looks like Paris Hilton's nice bob!
44 1/2) Try not to wet the bed with glee when he casually mentions by the way that my mother privately offered to buy us a new dishwasher, because ours obviously doesn't work anymore and it's so important that we have clean dishes for Josephine.
45) Remember to have him wash dishes at her house on our next visit, just in case she forgets, or in case perhaps it was an idle promise.
46) Give Steve a kiss and a snuggle and settle in to sleep.
47) Smell the pungent odour of Rottweiller farts, and prepare for the first of three visits outside overnight that will re-poop up the back yard, and no doubt end up in another sixty-seven dollar tummy ache.
But hey! We're getting a new dishwasher!