Still in Quebec on summer vaca though I’ve moved to a different Laurentian lake with a different set of in-laws, as hubby’s parents divorced long ago and both have new partners. My two sets of in-laws could not be more different, which always makes for a somewhat schizophrenic getaway—something like jamming together an all-inclusive and a Kilimanjaro ascent (both, in my humble opinion, equally agreeable though worlds apart).
At the blue house you are expected at a certain time on a certain date and the dinner table is set, complete with hand drawn, wilderness-themed place cards, and Martha Stewart-esk table arrangement. If you are late, you call. Jeans are acceptable but a jaunty summer dress and lipstick is better. You are encouraged to converse about your life and eagerly ask questions in return. Executing a well-timed pun earns bonus points. And not participating enthusiastically in an après dinner game of charades is frowned upon. Wine flows freely. There’s always dessert. And your room is made up and waiting with towel, bathrobe, embroidered tuque (Canadian translation for woolen cap) for chilly nights in the hot tub with possible ABBA sing along.
At the white house an approximate ETA is made some weeks in advance but inevitably one or both parties forget when that is. Several phone calls, emails and texts are exchanged but your arrival is always greeted as an offhand surprise i.e. “Oh! Hello there, we weren’t sure when you were coming.” Dinner won’t happen before nine PM and will be a communal effort with much humming and hawing over what to put in the salad. The meal, mind you, will be of gourmet caliber and worth waiting for. If at any moment you choose to recline on the living room floor whilst waiting for said feast, that is perfectly acceptable. Even better is to request a ride on the BMW K1200RS motorcycle. You need not speak of your life or accomplishments or inquire after theirs. Manhattans flow freely. Romantic midnight canoe trips encouraged. When you must find a place to sleep there are several possible locations with pros and cons (charming rustic guesthouse versus pullouts in main house) potentially made more complicated by other guests who may or may not arrive during your scheduled trip. Showing up at breakfast is optional.
The funny thing about my two sets of in-laws is that they quite accurately represent dichotomies in my personality. Friendly, social butterfly (glass of wine required) meets introverted recluse. And while at times the different families make for a touch of personality vertigo, boring, it never is. At the moment, I’ve stolen away at house two to avoid several screaming children but even by white house standards, I’m pushing it. Must return and make brief appearance before diving deep into family lake water and coming up for air.