Or, rather, for Jess.
Tomorrow night, after traveling a couple hundred miles and dropping off some friends in southern Massachusetts for the holiday, she and I will roll into my grandparents' house, 12 or 16 hours before everyone else does.
Thursday is reckoning day. It's a big house, but it will be full of 20 or so large, boisterous Irish-Italian-Americans, split over three generations and 60- or 70-odd years.
Children will be running, kicking, yelling and begging us to join them in the toy closet full of antiquated board games -- each depicting an entirely too-well-behaved boy and girl having the time of their lives, circa 1962.
Various adults will be silently feuding, sometimes glaring from across the room, other times pretending they didn't hear something that was stated quite clearly.
My grandmother will work hard in the kitchen, refusing the insincerely offered help of others, save that of my Uncle Joe. Having arrived earlier than everyone else, he'll jump into peeling a pile of potatoes, ignoring her response, and will be sweating through his shirt within minutes.
Cousins will take turns on the piano, creating new chords with each forceful touch, oblivious to the fact that the instrument hasn't been tuned since before I was born.
Later, dinner will be served. The dining room is old and perfect, salvaged from time just for days like these: push-button light switches, wallpaper so hideous that it's beautiful, the good silver set atop darkly stained wood. The kids will sit just outside, including perhaps, Jess and I, but not my younger sister and her boyfriend. Various jokes will be made about my hairline, occupation, and where I choose to live. I'll roll with them. Various other jokes will then be pointed at my sister, who won't do so well.
At some point later, my grandfather will opt to take off his polo shirt and rock just the V-neck white undershirt, standing half-outdoors and half-in, alternately smoking and spitting the tobacco specks his unfiltered Paul Malls leave behind. Later, he'll fall asleep in his leather chair while various cousins climb atop him.
Finally, we'll have pie. The youngest of cousins too far gone to enjoy the sweets on their own, and instead take them from Mom or Dad's lap, while the grade school kids swallow yawns and pretend that they could sprint up and down the stairs all night.
I've explained all this to Jess. She seems up to the task.