One of our family’s favorite movies is Christmas Vacation. We watch it every year some time during the holidays. I’m not really sure why we laugh so hard, as if we’ve never seen it before. Maybe it’s because every family has an Uncle Eddie or Aunt Bethany. However, we’ve not had anyone recite the pledge of allegiance when asked to say the blessing … yet.

For me, the best line in the movie is when both sets of grandparents show up, unexpectedly, for the week. Clark Griswold assures them, “Come on in. We have plenty of towels, plenty of everything” behind his plastic smile.

The year after we moved to Branson we had a summer-full of Clark Griswold moments … sure we have plenty of towels. It seems like all I did was wash sheets and towels from the end of May until school started again. I actually kept a running count of all the company we had. Looking back, I wish I’d had a visitors sign in book.

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day there were 14 nights we didn’t have house guests. Ten of those nights I was out of town. It was a tad bit out of control. It got to the point, after a group left, I’d categorize them somewhere on a scale between easy keepers and high maintenance. High maintenance basically expected to be entertained and fed. Easy keepers were happy to hang out and were thrilled with Cheerios for breakfast. My mom used to say fish and company begin to stink after three days. I think it depends if they’re high maintenance or easy keepers.

I did learn a lot that summer. Buy towels and soda when they’re on sale and keep the freezer full. And it’s absolutely socially acceptable to say, “I’m so sorry it’s not going to work out for you to stay with us. The stomach flu has been running through the house.”

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