I've never been to the 9th plane of Hell, but I imagine it's very much like waking up naked next to this guy. Or spending Christmas Eve (or any hoilday for that matter) with my family.
The fan of this blog knows well that I'm a happless holiday sprite who wanders aimlessly spreading cheer (and that redness on my bottom lip) from season to season, nostalgic for the shiny red trucks and tinker toys of Christmases past---Christmases that I'm beginning to think existed only on TV. For it is the spreading of things that brings warmth and joy to the hearts of all. Obviously my family didn't get the memo.
This Christmas Eve, Heather and I steered the old german-engineered Volkswagen sled toward the quiet suburban home of my Aunt and Uncle for wine, snacks, and sweets. We were greeted with the usual hugs, kisses, and handshakes, then made our way into the family room to greet the rest of the family who'd arrived on time---circa 7 pm. On time is a key point. In my family, time is relative, where the time my family will arrive is equal to their opinion of the relative who invited them (plus or minus one day and no phone call) times the number of drinks they've consumed the day of the event (occasionally the number of drinks value is squared to account for nappy time taken to sleep off the morning drunk).
We were all accounted for except Mom and Dad. Dad was to join the party straight from work, where he'd be until at least 7 pm, so we knew to expect him a bit late. Mom, however, was exercizing her trademarked running late routine. At exactly 701 pm, Mom had put in the phone call to let folks know that she was finally ready to get ready to leave her house (which is 45 minutes away).
Eventually (somewhere after 8 pm) we'd all (finally) arrived and were enjoying glasses of wine (except Mom who'd apparently given up saucing in public for lent and Dad who'd been "sipping" martinis since he arrived) and making the requisite jokes at each other's expense, when what to my wandering eye did appear, why there went Dad and my brother out to the kitchen then outside to have a quaint fight. I lept from my chair to throw open the sash, only to see my brother speed away in a flash. Hub-bubs and hurumphs people's chatter produced, and into the kitchen Mom and I went to deduce. Ehem, too much cheer.
In the kitchen stood dear-old Dad with a familiar what-the-fudge look in his eye. Martini in hand and mubling Ho-Ho-Oh-Fuck the holidays, he steered us away from the dust cloud that was all that remained of my brother and back into the family room to get the merry over with. I lingered for a bit staring off into the black night. Fare the well, oh brother, I thought. And thanks bunches for leaving the rest of us here.
No one's really sure what transpired in that kitchen or on that front lawn, but several awkward moments and more wine than I've ever seen Heather chug later, we resolved to open gifts. It really is the material things in life that make spending such nights with the family worth the effort. Thanks Macy's!
Overall, I rate this experience as requiring 25 to 30 therapy sessions to resolve. In the mean time, I'll see you on the barroom floor. Bottoms up friends. And merry fucking Christmas.