Friday, January 15, 2010

Family Vacation Part II

 OK, more of you wanted to hear about the further travails of the family ski vacation in Chamonix than about my new camera, so there you have it. 

When renting a chalet or a beach house or whatever for a large group of people of varying ages, it is important to remember a few things if you want to keep your sanity.

Number One.  Make sure you are the first one in the front door so you can quickly scope out the bedrooms and snag the best one for yourself, narrowly beating out Small Son who is onto your tactics and actually tried to claim the master bedroom.  Oh, no, no, no, Small Son.  I do believe those are my gloves lying on the bed that I just sailed over your head to mark my territory.  Possession is 9/10ths of the law and all that.

Number Two.  If traveling with small children, make sure there are approximately 81 liters of apple juice and 32 boxes of cereal stocked in the cabinets at all times.  Apparently, Mr. Big did not get this memo, because he was forever going to the grocery store to buy yet even more juice.  This is Europe, remember, and drinks come in teeny, tiny packaging.  Because they have teeny, tiny refrigerators.  I mean, where would they put an American gallon of apple juice?  Out on the deck?

One day he came home with white grape juice.  Can you say Calamity?  Mr. Big’s life is a Catch-22.  He loves, loves, loves going to Swiss or French grocery stores.  Seriously.  Loves it.  But, he speaks no French.  So, it’s a crap shoot what comes home in his grocery bags.  It’s an adventure.  Because he guesses.  This is why he ate horse once at work in the cafeteria.  Anyway.

So, he knows that “Jus” means juice.  Plus he can look at the container and be, like, “OK, juice”.    But the remainder of the words are a mystery to Mr. Big.   In Mr. Big’s world, Jus de Pomme is basically the same thing as Jus de Blanche Raisin, right?  Um, no.  The 4-year old Instant Grand spotted Mr. Big for the poseur that he is in one sip.  “This is not my juice.”

Ooops.  That container of juice came home with us to Lausanne, where, I believe, it is still residing in the door compartment of my teeny, tiny fridge.

The third thing to remember for a harmonious family vacation is that YOU, oh paying parent in your late forties, early fifties and beyond, were once twentysomething, too.  People who are twentysomething want to go out when you are going to bed.  They will arrive back home when you are having coffee and reading the paper.  This is even more magnified because they are ON HOLIDAY.  

After a lovely dinner out in Chamonix on New Year’s Eve, we went outside into the town square, as one does, to watch the fireworks.  It is ubiquitous in Europe, the fireworks/New Year thing, even in the smallest of villages.  By the way, for those of you reading this from around here, the Chamonix fireworks sucked.   Go to Kufstein, Austria.  Best concert/fireworks for New Year’s ever.  Believe me.  I’ve been to many.

I digress.  Chamonix was typical.  People drinking champagne right out of the bottle.  Setting off their own personal fireworks in the midst of a large crowd.  Wearing costumes, etc.  We once saw a Dad in Bled, Slovenia holding out his hand, setting off Roman candles, with a baby in a backpack strapped onto him.  Weird.  OSHA would go crazy.  Hello, sir, you have a baby on your back and you are lighting off large, incendiary devices.  Doesn’t phase them, they just have another Vin Chaud.  Bonne Annee!

New Year’s rolls around.  My kids are passing around Mr. Big’s cell phone to call all of their friends back home to brag that they are having New Year’s six hours ahead of time.  The Instant Grands are tooting on the horns I got them and screaming “Bonne Annee!” in southern accents, turning the phrase into something containing approximately 8 syllables.  So, then we walk back to the chalet and the “big” kids want to go out.  Fine!  Mr. Big and I are certainly not going anywhere.  It is 1:30 in the morning!   We are old and we are tired.  Go, have fun!  Leave the babies, we got their backs!  See ya!

Of course, when we wake up the next day and get enough caffeine in our system to become fully functional, we realize that they are not home.  Mr. Big goes ballistic.  I’m like, been there, done that.  The first time this happened was in Ruka, Finland, when Domestic Son led Charming Daughter astray on New Year’s.  They showed up in a cab at 8 a.m., well after we had already called the Finnish police to report them missing and had been out checking dumpsters for Charming Daughter’s dead body.

Calm down, Mr. Big.  They are fine.  They are enjoying their little moment of après ski.  Surely, at some point, Ms. Fiancee will sober up enough to remember that she has two children, um, someplace, and she will make the move toward the house.  Which, of course, she did and they did and all was well.  Well, maybe, not so much.  I later spotted pictures of Small Son dancing in a nightclub in Chamonix, sans shirt, on Facebook.  But I have not shown those to Mr. Big.

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