Saturday, December 23, 2006

Speaking of the Funless Holiday Season

I hate the holidays. Especially Xmas. I have good reasons. Actually, I have a whole family and 33 years of good reasons to hate the holidays.

I guess it all started when I fell out half Jewish - half Catholic, which, by the way, was long before Chrismakka became a standing tradition of filling faces with gafilta-turkey and drowning out the sounds of family arguments with kosher cabernet. This halfness made attending Catholic schools somewhat difficult; thanks Mom, I love you.

It was the winter of 1972 when my dad (in his loving words) "fell on my mom, consequently producing [me]". Nine long months later (Dad's emphasis) and just in time for Thanksgiving, out I popped. And off popped the top of dear-old Dad's first of many, many bottles of Jack Daniels. A mere 3 and 1/2 years later, the world would be introduced to my kid brother. By then Mr. Daniels had become a bit of a celebrity in our house, with Dad cheering each time he heard the "pop" of the bottle top and the crackle of the ice as the warm, maple-glazed oak barrel-aged goodness poured to the height of three fingers in Dad's personal glass.

Flash-forward a few years, and didn't I look smashing dancing to "Disco Duck" in my brown corduroy bellbottoms, brown velvet butterfly-collared shirt, and sheepskin vest (brown of course). It was a special time. Looking back, I probably should have been riding the short bus.

Ahh to be a kid. Back then, we didn't run full-speed away from the holidays as we do now; there were at the very least presents to keep our immediate attention focused away from the hell of the remaining 364 days of the year. To us kids, holidays were a swell time of getting the family together at our Nana's house to exchange gifts, eat bad food, and watch the older relatives get festively smashed on cheap booze.

The warm feelings of giving and making merry usually wore off by early Christmas afternoon. With wrapping paper strewn about, kids passed out from overexcitement and rug burns, and our parents' eyes growing ever more crossed with each sip, it would be left, invariably, to Nana to kick us all out and send us home. It wasn't until later in life that I learned to appreciate the magnificent skill Dad showcased in his weaving the family's used Ford Granada in and out of on-coming traffic just to get us home safe and sound. Oh, how he loved us all. To this day, I can still hear him lovingly mumbling under his breath as he drove, "please God, kill me now").

Flash forward to the rather awkward years of high school then college. There I am at 16, with a high-top fade and wearing MC Hammer pants and an Africa-shaped medallion around my neck. For those of you who didn't have a "wigger" phase, the high top fade means that my hair was shaved to my scalp on the sides and in the back, but on top, it was moussed and gelled as high as I could possibly get it, which was no small feat for a kid with half-jewish hair; MC Hammer pants were silk pants not unlike those worn by gypsies in films from the 1920s; and the Africa-shaped medallion was an object very awkwardly purchased (for a white kid) at Crystal's shoe store in Boston's Downtown Crossing. More than likely I was rapping the Christmas carols a la Run DMC's "Christmas in Hollis", while dear-old Dad---who had by then upgraded to 6 fingers of Jack---was growing more and more concerned with who my real, black parents could possibly be. Mind you, I grew up no where near the hood, yet felt a unique and strong bond with my black roots. My parents voted for Reagan. Twice. They also voted for Bush I. And Bush II. Twice.

Mere moments later, while at college, I apparently found my true self, a skinny alterna-boy with long dark hair, fingernails painted black, black lipstick, and a touch of rouge on my cheeks. My wardrobe consisted of tight black or blue jeans, t-shirts of some obscure local band, and the requisite cherry z-colored doc martins. Shit I was cool. And man did chicks dig me. According to dear-old Dad (and Jack), however, I had become unbelievably gay.

By this point, Mom (whose passive aggressive traits had heretofore been clouded in my mind by her powerful use of the force) would begin to chime in with wails of how could her good Catholic son be so offensive. And gay.

What a shit storm ensued.

Needless to say, I got coal in my stocking for several years. And I avoided the hell out of my family.

I'm grown up now and have realized the errors of my family's ways. Thanks therapy! Boy what I wouldn't give to have grown up with someone else's family. Sure, I've attempted to re-kindle the feelings of my childhood holidays, but always fall far short. Is it me, I often wonder. Perhaps. But I can't help thinking it's all their fault.

Who really looks forward to making merry with their family anyway? I say pour me three fingers of Jack, Santa, and get the fuck off my porch.

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