Why Thanksgiving is stressing me out

My in-laws have yet to show up at the front door for Thanksgiving dinner, but I’m already stressed.

And when I say stressed, I’m not referring to the usual things that put my nerves on edge.

Take our dog Rodney’s incessant barking when my wife even thinks about stepping outside without him. His chaotic antics are not bothering me nearly as much as the impending arrival of my wife’s parents. Even the deer that seem to stalk me on my way to work aren’t as intimidating.

Don’t get me wrong (and just in case they read this before they get here), I’m looking forward to their visit.

Really. I am.

Adult conversation will be a welcome change from the grunts that seem to be the lingua franca among teenage boys like our 16-year-old son and the attitude we get from our middle-school daughter.

Plus, it will be nice to have a competent fix-it guy around, if only to undo my incompetent attempts at home repair. For example, I’m hoping my father-in-law will help rewire the floor lamp I took apart when all it needed was a new switch to turn it on and off. That way, we’ll actually be able to plug it in without causing a breaker to trip, leaving our family room in the dark.

So no, it’s not the actual visit that has me tied up in knots. It’s getting through the days leading up to my in-laws arrival.

My wife has been sending strong signals of what’s to come. You might even call them warnings.

At least once a day for the past couple of weeks, she’s walked down the hall on the way to the kitchen and muttered to herself, “we’ve got to clean before my parents get here.”

And I’m not getting out of helping – not even if I go on a hunger strike like our cat, Skitty, did.

My wife was the first to notice that Skitty wasn’t eating, which is highly unusual. She generally spends her days alternating between demanding food and hanging out on a perch evincing her customary sense of superiority. Instead, she’d taken to hiding in our daughter’s closet, completely uninterested in food.

After an expensive trip to the emergency veterinarian, a visit to our regular vet, blood tests, a round of antibiotics, x-rays and vitamin injections, we still could not find a cause for her hunger strike.

Then on the third trip to the vet, my wife casually mentioned that we had recently taken in a stray kitten.

Our vet had an epiphany. For lack of a better diagnosis, he concluded that Skitty was merely throwing a hissy fit over the new arrival. He said cats are “weird that way” and recommended putting her on anti-anxiety medication if her hunger strike continued.

It took a few more days but Skitty has now come to terms with our new kitten. She’s back to eating normally. The bad news is, my wife is still walking down the hall muttering about cleaning the house.

It’s enough to make me want to make like a weirdo cat and hide in the bottom of a closet until my in-laws get here.

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Why Thanksgiving is stressing me out

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