herald

Tuesday 12 November 2019

The turkey and the guests start to stink after a few days

You know what they say. Fish and guests start to stink after three days.

I guess around the Christmas period you could say that turkey and guests stink after a certain number of days.

Christmas is all about family getting together and celebrating.

As most Irish families do not live within close proximity of each other, this means people staying over. And people staying over can cause a lot of stress.

I don’t like staying in other people’s houses. I never sleep that well. I tiptoe about, worrying about waking up the hosts in the middle of the night, and now that I have a son I also fret about him waking up other people.

I’d much rather stay in a nearby hotel when visiting people. That way I can catch up with my visitors, have a great time and still have my peace and privacy and not worry about over-wearing my welcome.   

Having guests to stay at Christmas does put a lot of strain on people, especially if they are in-laws or you don’t know them very well. I don’t mind when good friends stay the night. In fact, I often urge them to stay so we can enjoy a few drinks and talk late into the night.

However, when people arrive laden with a couple of heavy suitcases, I begin to stress. It’s just not relaxing to have people’s stuff strewn all around the living room.

Worst of all is when they expect to be entertained day and night when you have work to do and a child to get ready for school in the mornings.  

I was chatting with some friends about this. Each and every one agreed that while entertaining can be fun, people hogging your TV, computer and kitchen for a few days is anything but. 

The best house guest arrives late, with flowers and wine, and leaves early. They also wash up after themselves and don’t treat your home like a hotel with housekeeping included.

I think if you have a spare en suite room it’s quite different. As long as guests are not on top of you, they’re easier to cope with. But when you’re suddenly sharing a wall and a toilet, things become a little stressful.

I suppose the best thing to have is a basement where you can install guests. But who has a spare basement just for visitors? When guests come to stay, I usually give them my room and I share my son’s room. A night or two is fine. No longer.

Thankfully, I don’t get too many requests for accommodation. Unlike my friend who lives in New York. He has a tiny studio apartment in a very trendy area of the city.

He’s inundated with people wishing to visit. They sleep on his couch, making his very small home become cluttered and claustrophobic.

“If they were genuinely coming to see me, I’d be flattered,” he told me. “But deep down, they’re just visiting for the free gaff. The sense of relief when they leave is huge.”

I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way. I’m always happy to see guests come and even happier to wave them goodbye. Turkey and guests stink after three days.

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