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EVERYTHING KING: Welcome mat has an expiration date

Can family members outstay their welcome? In this week's column, Wendy finds out
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As Benjamin Franklin famously said: “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”

As I am on week three — or is it four? — at my sister’s home, I’m quite sure Ben didn’t mean me. As far as I know, I am a delightful and welcome visitor.

Being from Barrie, I usually figure most of my visiting needs to be done pre-winter, so the summer and early fall has been for travelling.

The tricky part is when all your close friends and relatives live hours away. The budget can only handle so many motel stays and thus forces my 'staycations' with others.

Just as in childhood, when allowed a sleep away, it always starts out so civilized. So polite!

Everyone is so elated with the presence of family. There is smiling and laughing — almost dancing with joy that we are all under one room again as it was when we were kids.

The good dishes are brought out for meals. My favourite meals are prepared. The spare bedroom is decorated in special fashion.

It is like a Disney movie. Even the cats seem to jump around joyfully.

At first, anyway.

Week one:

Sister: Good morning! Ready for breakfast. How do you want your eggs? Toast or crumpets? Have enough bacon? Coffee strong enough?

Week two:

Sister: Breakfast is ready. Get up and eat it before it's cold. We ran out of bacon.

Week three:

Sister: (Throws socks at my head to wake me.) Get up. You’ll need to go buy eggs, bacon, butter and bread if you want to eat. We’re also out of coffee.

It's amazing how it crumbles so quickly.

I decided to check the internet for a guide to house-guest etiquette and see if I was doing everything right.

According to Emily Post, a famed manners guru:

  • Make your visit short and sweet. Generally, keep your visit to no more than three nights. (Just three nights? I would barely unpacked. What does Emily know?)
  • Bring your own toiletries. (Well, mostly except the sister has nicer products than me and I like to try them out. Sharing is caring!)
  • Make your bed and clean up after yourself. (Ummm, well.) Keep your bathroom clean: Wipe up any ring in the tub, shaving cream residue in the basin, hair on any object or surface, or dirt on soap. (Well, that’s all kind of a crapshoot.)
  • Offer to help out, especially in the kitchen (To be honest, my sister is a control freak, but I have made several meals gotten groceries, washed dishes and purchased snacks.)
  • Be adaptable. Be ready for anything — or for nothing. (I think I am.)
  • Show that you're enjoying yourself. (Yes, definitely do that — hearty laughs and engaging chatter.)
  • Offer to pitch in for groceries if you are staying more than two or three nights. (Yes, I believe I did.)
  • Double check to make sure you have all your belongings before you leave. (Ha! No need for that. I’ll be back soon enough.)
  • Bring or send a gift, or treat your host to a night out. (I took them to the movies and left a gift card for the LCBO, so they can drink to forget.)
  • Send a handwritten thank-you note following your visit. (Yes, I was raised to always send a written thank-you.)

Week 4 — do not recommend!

Sister: Are you still here? When do you think you will be going home? You need me to help you pack? Your car got gas?

It's a good thing I know my true worth and the fun I bring to situations or I could feel insecure.

I'm sure it was just my imagination, but I swear the welcome mat now reads Go Away.

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About the Author: Wendy King

Wendy King writes about all kinds of things from nutrition to the job search from cats to clowns — anything and everything — from the ridiculous to the sublime. Watch for Wendy's column weekly.
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