There are some things that divide the families of the world into categories. And there isn't much room for gray area in these categories. For instance there are the Vaseline families and the non-Vaseline families.
Last year I went out to dinner with a newly married couple and another friend. The newlyweds were describing some time they spent with the groom's family in Ireland. The new bride was making fun of the groom's family, with the grooms help, and I whole heartily laughed along until it came to the suject of Vaseline. She thought it was disgusting that the mom used Vaseline. I said that I used it on my lips every night before going to bed. 'Really?' she said. I went on to describe all the many uses, dry hands or feet, weird rough patches of winter dry skin that are more common in the midwest, etc. That's when an invisible line was drawn on the table. The bride and our friend talked about the inherent grossness of the substance and why anyone would want to use it. The groom and I talked about it's many uses and did we need to run home in shame since we admitted to using the stuff?
There is another division between families that I have become all too aware of since moving to SF. There are the hotel families and the we're staying with you families. Some people's parents come to visit and stay in a cute bed & breakfasts. Or a big fancy hotel downtown. Or the reasonably priced place just down the street. My family comes to visit and I offer up my bed, my futon and and my entire life for the duration. For the most part I wouldn't have it any other way. Talking in our pajamas first thing in the morning or watching my mom fall asleep while watching law and order are the little life moments that I miss by living so far away.
Now that I live on my own, it isn't such a big deal, but having family visit with a roommate presents more considerations. The last time my dad visited I had a roommate and I spent a lot of emotional effort trying to make sure we weren't in her way and that my dad was on his best behavior, etc. For some reason I felt like julie the cruise director and you know what? That job is exhausting. I told my sister that next time dad visited that perhaps i would look into a hotel for a few nights. She acted like I said I would shoot him.
"Really? You'd make dad stay in a hotel?" (implying that it is some sort of torture chamber instead of a nice place with little shampoos)
"Well, yeah, but only for a night or two. Besides he'd probably really like it."
"Did he do something wrong? Why would you make him stay in a hotel?"
I dropped the conversation. Now that I live sans roommate, I told my family that they can stay with me whenever and for whatever time period that they want. The only stipulations are that I may not be able to take time off of work and that I reserve the right to keep my own bed. My dad is flying in today and he will be staying with me, for part of the time at least. The ironic thing is that he will be in a hotel for a week of his stay in California because he'll be taking a class that is too far away to drive to from SF everyday. So I get a little break during his stay, he gets the little shampoos and we all walk away happy.
*My grandma was a vaseloholic too and told my sister to put some on her doll's hair so it would lie flat. Under no circumstances should you ever do this. That doll's hair was never the same again. It became know as the doll with the messed up hair.