“Just come over whenever it’s good for you.”

Those eight words, spoken more than once by my mother-in-law over our recent three-day visit, set the tone for a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with my husband’s family in the Upstate.

We had rented a house for us and our boys and their girlfriends and dog. Grandma Git, as my boys call her, doesn’t have room in her quaint farmhouse for such a crowd. Since she’s used to living alone, we thought it would be more considerate not to barge in with our noisy gang anyway.

We traveled in two vehicles, the kids in one and we old folks in the other. The plan was to arrive early, check in, freshen up and get to their Aunt Becky’s house by 4 p.m. for an early dinner.

I tried to hurry the boys when they arrived late, because it’s just rude to be late for dinner at someone else’s house.

Then I learned that dinner wasn’t for another two hours. “Mom won’t be there until 5,” Amos said. Whew. Crisis averted.

At the end of a lovely evening of catching up, sharing photos and telling stories, we started saying our goodbyes before going our separate ways. Grandma Git invited us for breakfast at her farmhouse the next day.

Sensing uncertainty from us about our ability to mobilize the four younger people at a reasonable breakfast hour, she finally said, “Just come over whenever it’s good for you.”

I felt a comforting sense of relief.

“I also have sandwich fixings for lunch whenever we get ready,” she continued.

Now, I felt like we were truly on vacation. No schedule.

Sure enough, breakfast at the rental was a lazy, late morning affair. Nothing fancy, and nothing before the coffee had been made and devoured. It was relaxed and easy, with much laughter and conversation.

We got to her house around noon. We sat around the dining table talking (but not eating) for a couple of hours. The boys showed their girls around the farm and explored the woods out back. They visited with the rabbits in their habitats. (Much of the farm serves as the rabbit sanctuary that Git founded 50 years ago.)

We eventually got to the sandwiches in late afternoon, which precluded the big spaghetti dinner we had planned. But no one really cared.

As we left that evening, Amos asked his mom, “What time should we be here tomorrow?” Then she said it again: “Just come over whenever it’s good for you.”

She has no idea how inspiring those simple eight words were to me.

Back in the day, every holiday – at her house and at my parents’ house – was run on a schedule. It was necessary for food preparation for a large number of people, many of whom were coming from different directions and had their own schedules with other parts of their families. Someone had to be in control, and in our families, it was the matriarchs.

Now, though, as we all have matured and relaxed, we have learned that it’s okay to take a breath, go with the flow and just let things be as they will be.

My kids have told me over the years that I am somewhat of a control freak. I recently came to recognize that tendency in myself. And with recognition came the desire to give it up. Git’s words helped.

So, if you’re invited to our house for a casual get-together this holiday season – or anytime – just come over whenever it’s good for you.