Like so many of my past journaling attempts, time got the better of me, and here I am almost a year later attempting to get back to posting stories. My humblest apologies, futile as they may be.
I try to live by the belief that life is often dramatic enough and there is no need to add to it with added petty drama. Well, in the past year, life has thrown a funny game my way, like dice on a craps table in Vegas. Of course, a majority of these “humorous” situations involved an Albanian in one form or another. I just can’t escape them. My outlandishly talented and funny college room-mate once bestowed the title of “Albanian Magnet” upon my being. Looking back, I am thinking it was more of a curse or some sort of evil-eye situation. (What is the evil-eye? More on that later but it involves spitting and sometimes salt to cast it out. No, I am not joking.)
Over a year ago, around the holidays, I welcomed not one, not two, but three Albanians into my home. It should also be noted that not even a week prior to this, my Albanian brother-in-law who had been living under my roof for nearly a year, finally moved out. Then came the guests. Now, it is a difficult task to define what an Albanian guest is. Let me attempt to clarify the current definition of a normal “guest.”
A person who spends some time at another person’s home in some social activity, as a visit, dinner, or party.
A person who receives hospitality at the home of another: a weekend guest.
Seems legit. Now, let me try to define an Albanian guest.
A group of people — rarely a singular person — who will occupy your home for no fewer than “several” weeks and up to several months or possibly a year.
A person who will gladly point out your non-Albanian differences; yet, expect you to cook in an Albanian fashion. A person who will take over your kitchen whenever your back is turned, so that they can properly cook said Albanian food and much Turkish coffee.
A person who will put not only their feet up on your prized couch but their whole body, using every decorative pillow and decorative throw to warm themselves and bolster their feet as if settling down to hibernate…eventually going into a deep sleep so that no other “guests” or homeowner can sit down.
Need I say more? Yes, yes I must. This next wave of Albanians occupied mainly my couch for longer than I dare calculate. The couch, which realistically has a place to seat five adult bodies, was constantly occupied by layers of loud Albanians, Albanian feet, and Albanian arms with cell phones superglued to them. Sometimes only two bodies occupied the whole square footage of the couch while the rest of us spilled onto the floor and small stools. I often found myself standing up in the kitchen on the periphery giving myself some fresh air to breathe, and it was the only place free of Albanians. When they finally left and against all rules, they left one behind. My mother-in-law planned to stay with us for “a while” (insert face-slap emoji). Not even a week after that, another wave of two more Albanians visited. I am not exaggerating.
For what seemed like an eternal year after this, there was a permanent art installation titled “Albanian Mother-In-Law Reclined” sitting in my favorite spot on the couch. Only recently have I been able to sit on my couch undisturbed, totally relaxed, and unbothered by Albanian speech. It was a shocking and most wondrous event. Who knew that sitting on your own couch could be such a luxury. However, my poor couch had been molested and lost the firm refuge it once confidently offered. I mourned the loss of my dear 10-year-old couch with the purchase of a new sectional and it is well-formed and pleasing.
Along with a new couch relationship, I also experienced additional visitors during this time, along with fits of Albanian rage aimed towards me, more unwanted drama, and so much added frustration. Yet, through it all, I indeed learned much about myself. Like the Grinch, whose heart grew three sizes, I too realized I had learned more patience than humanly possible. I learned that being gracious is not a once-in-a-while attribute to behold, but something to practice all the time - like it or not. As much as my Albanian family can drive me crazy, I wouldn't trade them for the world. Simply put, I love them no matter what.
In conclusion, as this holiday season commences, I wish you all grace. Enough grace to face all your family drama. Enough grace to realize that kids will always want every toy they see (especially the one they didn’t get from Santa). Enough grace to forgive yourself when you feel like you just can’t take it anymore.
From my Albanian-filled home to yours, I wish you a Merry Christmas or Gëzuar Krishtlindjet!
Check out the newest Blog addition "Travel" where I will update my travel stories.
Are you expecting family this season? What are your biggest anxieties when guests visit? Comment below, I'd love to hear from you!