Net Gain of Three

Last Thanksgiving was a banner year. For a number of years, we have hosted some family for the traditional feast. But last year was a big one. Schedules were rearranged that allowed both my wife’s sister’s family and most of her brother’s family to join us. At the end of the day, seventeen folks had been fed, joined in great conversation, and watched a little football. We even got everyone up to the (then) new Jacob’s Dream sculpture on campus.

One of the surprises last year was in the dog category. We have a little mix breed — 12 years old at the time. Our son brought his lab-beagle mix. Our other son brought the miniature poodle. My brother-in-law brought a dachshund and his sister matched with another of the same breed. And our niece added a pit-bull puppy.

Now, you need to understand that Nancy and I aren’t big “dog-in-the-house” people. Our little Snoopy makes it in daily for a few hours of napping in her bed. And occasionally she stays in the utility room on cold nights. And Ben, the miniature poodle, is another exception. He often comes with our granddaughter for play days. He doesn’t fair well outside. Fundamentally, he doesn’t understand the concept of being a dog. So Nancy and I have adjusted.

But last Thanksgiving was a new experience. Lots of people and, whenever the back door opened, lots of dogs were all over the house. Snoopy, the grand dame of the group, stayed in the utility room — away from the pitter-patter of big and little feet.

All in all, we did pretty well until “the incident.” As dogs will do, one of our canine guests left a gift in the dining room. Upon its discovery and the sudden spurt of cleaning action that followed by Nancy and my brother-in-law, dog owners quickly emptied the house and stood in the back yard, talking in low tones and wondering how much trouble they were in.

Well, we got past “the incident” with no lasting carpet stain and no animal sacrifice.

Later in the weekend, I told Nancy she should just explain that next year, the invitation to Thanksgiving didn’t extend to animals. Yet, Nancy didn’t want anything to be a barrier to family attendance on a special day. She said nothing.

Yesterday morning, as guests began to arrive, my hopes fell. The pit bull didn’t come this year, but we added another dachshund and a lab. And to be truthful, there really weren’t any options. All of these good people were traveling over an extended schedule. And, let’s face it, dogs need to be cared for.

On the people side, we lost one non-family guest, but we added my niece, her husband, and her baby boy.

One dog up from last year. Two people. A net gain of three.

What a wonderful day! Our 10% chance of snow “sometime on Friday after Thanksgiving” began to fall about noon on Thanksgiving. By 4 p.m. and the goodbyes to most of the family, several inches of the white stuff clung to branches and grass and the street was slushy.

Dogs were more closely monitored — no incident. Baby was doted over and loved. Family bonded as they told stories and laughed. And I had several precious minutes with my 6 year old Landrye in my arms.

And, after all were gone and additional clean-up accomplished, Nancy and I sat down with our Austin kids, Justin and Alex, ate leftovers, talked and watched videos.

All in all, the day can be judged in a net gain of three. However, the true value for me can’t be measured.

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