In-Law Overload

When visiting family, Carol and Kevin Heffernan had to redefine downtime.

Carol's side: I need more space!

On December 23 Kevin and I arrived at his parents' house to celebrate our first holiday as a married couple. After a five-hour drive, a late arrival, and a hearty welcome, I was eager to catch more than a few winks, rejoicing in the fact that no alarm clock would jolt us out of bed the next morning.

I was in for quite a shock.

We were awakened at the crack of dawn by a train whistle blowing not so subtly outside our bedroom door. Evidently, my father-in-law loves to rouse houseguests with a bang and an announcement: "Breakfast time!"

After breakfast time came talk time, then snack time, shopping time, and lunch time; cooking time prepared us for dinner time, which preceded game time, and then—finally!—bedtime. Saturday and Sunday followed suit, except we were awakened by a ukulele one morning and a recording of Handel's Messiah the next. By Sunday afternoon I was ready to crack. Too much talking. Too much food. Too much activity! I needed some downtime—fast.

"How can you handle going, going, going all the time?" I asked Kevin as we dragged ourselves to bed. "I haven't had a chance to think, let alone nap or read the book I brought. I can't take any more of this constant commotion."

I expected Kevin to sympathize and promise that we'd spend the following day lounging around. Instead he responded, "This is what I'm used to. My family enjoys being with each other, and my parents like to be on-the-go."

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