A VISIT IS NOT A STAY
Our adult children who live some distance from us always express regret that my wife and I don’t stay longer than we have. We have a three day rule, which mostly comes from my own mother, who said “Fresh fish and visits to relatives spoil after three days.” Seems to me that after three days of proximity we’ve pretty well caught up with what each of us is doing, we’ve taken walks together and done all the usual things we want to do when we get together. Time to go out on a peak.
As a neighbor pointed out to us, a visit is very different than a stay. A stay is more than three days, more like a week or two. Stays can bring out all the family strains that have promoted separate households in the first place. If you’re a parent, a visit is generally pleasant since you’re a guest and the rule is that you’re not to interfere with the good order of your child’s home and hearth unless specifically asked to do something or give your opinion on some serious matter.
Not so with a stay. If you’re in someone’s household for a week or two, you inevitably become an irritant to the order of the household, since at a minimum any human has his or her needs, opinions, foibles, prejudices, and general way of doing things. Adults living apart inevitably develop differences in these regards, so stays inevitably must be avoided.
There are things you can do to alleviate tensions during stays, like residing not in your relatives’ home but rather in a motel or some similar locale where you can create some separation, indulge in your own eccentricities, and generally buy some time of your own. For instance, I’ve noticed that only one of my four kids watches the news, so when visiting the others’ families I tend to sneak the news at the motel we stay at. Probably the best example is our annual family reunion in Estes Park. Last year we had 30 people with genes similar to mine or were married to one. The saving grace, though, was that each branch of the family had its own cabin to that each of us could have visits on a daily basis without turning the entire get-together into a stay.
MORAL: The entire story is a moral; don’t stay— visit!