'Twas the Night Before Packout

June 2019

Roaming Reality Bites

By Francesca Kelly

(with apologies to Clement Moore)

'Twas the night before packout
And all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
Except for the spouse.

The stockings weren't washed yet,
The fridge not yet bare,
But still, in 6 hours
Men with vans would be there.

The children were nestled
Like cubs in their lair
While their mother picked Lego blocks
Out of their hair.

Photo Credit: Rick Mason

When down from the wall
There crashed with a clatter
A large jigsaw puzzle;
But what did it matter?

For all the spouse saw
Wherever she turned
Was a mess so gigantic
She thought, "Slash and burn!"

And suddenly something
Just snapped from within
When she realized she'd never be
"Neat as a pin."

She set out that instant
And returned in an hour
With a small Cat bulldozer
'Bout 80 horsepower.

Then she fired it up
And aimed at the toys
And the sound of the pileup
Was one joyful noise.

The study was targeted
For her next caper
As she plowed at full speed
Towards the mountains of paper.

Photo Credit: Eli Francis

By now she had wakened
Her family from sleep.
And they stared at their mom
Without making a peep.

But their father said,
"I should have listened before,
When you said you'd go crazy
With one packout more."

The spouse did not hear.
She had gone in reverse
And was happily mashing
Her overcrammed purse.

Her eyes, how they twinkled!
Her expression, bewitching!
How merry she was
As she bulldozed the kitchen!

When she finished, there lay
In a pile on the deck
The remains of what could be called
"Household Effects."

Photo Credit: Chris Karidis

"In just a few hours,"
She said, smiling with glee,
"Men with vans come for you,
Men with white coats for me."

And I heard her exclaim
As she drove down the road,
"Happy Packout to all!
And damn, that felt good!"

©1995 Francesca H. Kelly. All Rights Reserved. First published in The Spouses’
Underground Newsletter.

Tales from a Small Planet co-founder Francesca Huemer Kelly has accompanied her
husband, Ambassador Ian Kelly (now retired), to Milan, Leningrad, Moscow, Belgrade,
Vienna (twice), Ankara, Rome, Brussels and Tbilisi, as well as to Washington,
and now, Chicago. She has worked as a freelance writer (Salon, Family
Circle and more) and an editor for Foreign Service Journal, and is currently a college
application essay coach at essayadvantage.net. Classically trained as a singer, she has
performed in professional ensembles overseas and in the U.S. for 40 years, and is the
mother of four grown children.

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