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Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Special: The Holiday Diaries

Lights, please.

My mom and I moved to South Carolina when I was five, and for the next fourteen years, we drove back up to Ohio every Christmas to spend the Holidays with our family. Mom's a teacher,s o we'd head up usually as soon as we all got out of school, getting up there in time for Christmas Eve with Mom's people over at my grandmother's house, and Over the years, the whole event became more and more stressful for my mother. None, though, have ever matched the Tale of Woe that was Christmas with the Sims Family, 1997.

So far, I got this hatchback.School had stayed in pretty late that year, so it was already the 23rd when we piled everything into my mother's car: The model of German engineering known as the 1983 Volkswagen Rabbit.

It was a diesel-powered hatchback with roughly three cubic feet of passenger space that we managed to cram my mother, me, luggage, presents, and possibly a dog into for the six hundred mile drive to Ohio. There was, of course, no radio.

That was the least of the car's problems, however, as we found out when we reached the top of a mountain outside of Asheville, and it unceremoniously died on us. We spent the night in a hotel, and the next morning a friendly local mechanic fixed the problem by--and I swear this is true--shoving a paperclip into the engine and telling us to be careful not to dislodge it when we sprayed pure ethanol into the intake, as was necessary to get the thing running at all.

Fortunately, all that happened at the highest point, geographically speaking, of the trip, so we were able to pretty much coast the rest of the way down to Hamilton, arriving at my Grandmother's with enough time to shower and change before the big Christmas Eve dinner with her side of the family.

Dinner had traditionally been cooked by my grandmother, but she had decided to take the year off, and deservedly so. She'd made reservations down at the Hamiltonian, a swanky hotel with a Chritmas Eve buffet, and the plan was for us to eat, then meet back at the house with my sister and her then-new husband David for presents, since they were spending dinner with David's family.

This was a plan that my grandmother refused to acknowledge, telling my sister that she should just ditch her new in-laws in the middle of dinner and come with us, despite the fact that everyone else in the family was trying to convince her otherwise. She kept it up even to the point where the hostess asked us how many were in our party, and she maintained that we were expecting ten, even though there were only seven of us.

Eventually, though, we got seated, and Mom and I immediately went for the buffet. I'm not the kind of person to waste time with salad when there's prime rib and roasted chicken involved, so I loaded up my plate and came back to sat down, finding myself in a powderkeg of holiday cheer.

The problem was this: My cousin Craig, whose fashion sense you might remember, was in a phase of his life where he refused to eat anything but ham. My grandmother had been aware of this fact, but when she made the reservations, had mistakenly seen the Christmas Day menu--with ham--and not the Christmas Eve menu--with everything else. My aunt was just convincing him to give the chicken (which was delicious, I might add) a try, when my uncle, always one to exacerbate things, slammed his fork down, turned to us in all seriousness, and said:

"Well I'm not gonna eat... if the little guy's not gonna eat."

And that was pretty much that for everyone at the table who wasn't me or my mother. We were quite enjoying our food, thank you very much, and elected to stick around and finish when everyone else got up to leave. I was just getting up for a second plate when my aunt, pulling on her coat, affected the soft, saintly voice of a martyr:

"You two go ahead and eat... We'll just [sigh] go to Burger King or something."

Mom didn't miss a beat: "Cool, we'll catch you back at the house."

So we ate, and ate well, stopping by the hotel bar afterwards so mom could get a martini before it was once more into the breach, then out to the lobby where we found my grandfather, who had dropped the rest of the family off and then returned, spending the entire time we were eating in the lobby, killing time by counting the people with canes.

It was one of the coolest things he's ever done, in my opinion.

The rest of the trip passed relatively uneventfully after that. Ruby refused to let David into any of the family pictures she took, and my brother-in-law's father broke his hand trying to fix the car.

Given that, it's pretty understandable that in 2002, Mom took an Ambien at dinner and spent Christmas Eve knitting in the corner, responding somewhat less than graciously to the George Foreman Grill she got.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

More ISB Mistletoe and Holly:
| Ant Man's Big Christmas |
| Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #17 |
| Santa Saves the DC Universe! |
| The Worst Christmas Song Ever |
| A Marvel Comics Christmas: Marvel Team-Up #127 and Marvel Two-in-One #8 |
| Starman #27: Because YOU Demanded It! |


Blogger Julie said...

Merry Christmas to you too Chris! :)

12/25/2005 9:55 AM


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