As usual, I returned to my semi-ancestral home in suburban Atlanta for Christmas this year. This entails gathering a veritable riot of family, which in our case includes nine siblings, four to six siblings in law, depending on wavering marital statuses, two parents, ten grandchildren and various friends and hangers on, for multiple get togethers in my parents' somewhat cluttered colonial house. Always a good time, but never without a good dose of scandal, scuttlebutt and heartbreak. And hilarity. A lot of it.
To wit, here are a few memorable moments from this year's expedition into the holiday melee:
1) Flipping through channels with my parents and my brother and landing on "The Sound of Music" so my dad could hear the Von Trapps sing "Edelweiss", one of his all time favorite songs. We were all together, the Christmas tree was lit, homemade sugar cookies were being consumed. It was an idyllic moment...until the converstion turned to what a notorious "pussy hound" Christopher Plummer had been, and how he'd probably been "porking" both Julie Andrews and the girl who played Liesel (16 going on 17).
2) Sitting around the kitchen table drinking coffee with my brother Joey (33) and my niece Madeline (2), while my brother Michael (30) warms up some of my dad's famous goetta. Joey emits a loud fart that echoes against the wooden chair, and says "whoa, what was that?" Maddie smiles and looks over at Michael, notorious in my family for his flatulence, and says "that's my daddy!"
3) Opening gifts on Christmas eve, the family room packed with wine swilling adults, sugar stricken toddlers, overstimulated and underwhelmed teenagers, nutrackers, candy dishes full of truffles, multiple couches, picture frames, candles, mismatched stockings, sparkly lights, bows, ornaments, the whole spectrum of Christmas madness, and one sprawling, ancient black labrador retreiver, Bogans, aka The Boy. I'm in the kitchen pouring myself another glass of cabernet and suddenly a chorus of "ewwwwwws" springs up, followed immediately by a mass exodus from the room. I look over and Bogans has puked up a sizable log of brown, red and green lumps, an accumulation of dog food, milk bones and god knows what other treats people have been slipping him over the course of the evening, because, as my dad keeps saying, "this is The Boy's last Christmas."
4) Asking my 13 year old nephew, Nicholas, what he wanted for Christmas. His answer: a debit card. ! (I later asked my nine year old nephew, Collin, what he wanted, and he said a Kindle Fire. Also !)
5) Looking out the window on our way to Christmas eve dinner and seeing a family standing around on the sidewalk of my parents' neighborhood gawking and taking pictures of a red tailed hawk devouring a small rodent like creature in a nearby yard. Bon appetit!
I can't wait 'til next year.