Berkeley, California --Happy Holidays everyone! I had the family over for Christmas: my brother Jerry, his wife Pam, their three kids, and Aunt Vera and Uncle Carl. Also, my ninety-year-old grandmother Edna brought her new boyfriend, Harlan, who I guess to be somewhere between ninety and five hundred years old. Of course, Edna brought Penny, her fat, gassy, and blind seventeen-year-old beagle who, as usual, got just inside the living room before pooping all over the place. My sister Sunshine from Hawaii couldn't make it but sent some nice gifts and a batch of baked goodies.
I decided we would open our presents in the morning, have a light lunch, and pretty much lie around and relax until dinner. Grandma Edna insisted on preparing dinner, something the rest of us weren't too keen on as three years ago she severely undercooked the turkey at Thanksgiving, causing several of us to get sick. Oh well, she's our grandma and what she says goes!
I turned on some Christmas music and we all sat down to open our presents at about ten that morning. The kids were jacked up and excited as usual. My living room looked like a Norman Rockwell painting with the children gathered around the Christmas tree while we adults, decked out in our gay holiday sweaters, watched from the couches while talking and laughing and drinking Uncle Carl's spiked eggnog. Penny dog was sleeping under the tree and except for her incessant farting, completed the festive scene.
After opening our presents, we sat down to a nice lunch of sandwiches, followed by some awesome brownies my sister had sent. The kids went outside; my brother and his wife headed off for her sister's house, and the rest of us played some Pictionary, our favorite game. As usual, Uncle Carl had a little too much to drink and fell into the Christmas tree while "moon walking" to Bing Crosby's "White Christmas." Although Carl was okay, the jolt to the dry tree knocked off just about every pine needle, transforming it into a skeleton draped with lights - oh well. Carl thankfully passed out on the recliner while the rest of us finished our game. Afterward, Grandma Edna and Harlan went to the kitchen to start on the turkey, and Vera and I went out on the front porch to have a glass of wine and catch up on our gossip.
Just about the time Aunt Vera morphed into Liza Minnelli with the body of a lobster, I knew Sunshine's brownies were "special." My first thought was, "Oh no, the children!" I ran for the back yard and what I found was probably something like Norman Rockwell would paint if he ate a lot of my sister's brownies: the kids were sitting like little zombies watching a naked Harlan French-kissing an equally-naked Grandma Edna in the spa! Oh crap! I pulled the kids into the house and, despite their protests that I was a huge beaver, put them down for a nap before lying down myself.
When I awoke later that afternoon, everything was sorta back to normal. Outside of being semi-catatonic, the children seemed all right. I found Vera sleeping in the garage behind the water heater, and after several cups of coffee, she was okay. Harlan was asleep in the spa, and the delicious aroma wafting through the house testified that Grandma Edna was cooking up a storm in the kitchen. I checked on her progress, and she seemed to be doing fine outside of the fact she could now speak only Spanish(?) and was wearing an apron, hickeys, and nothing else. Other than that, it seemed everything was thankfully back on track as my brother and his wife returned just in time for dinner.
Once the food was prepared, we all sat down at the table and as usual, Carl said grace, although his drunken rambling peppered with profanities hardly seemed appropriate, especially in front of the children (not that they'll remember). I only wish I could say the same, as what happened next will haunt me the rest of my life. Just as my brother was about to carve the turkey, Vera let out a bloodcurdling scream! Just then Jerry also saw Penny's dog collar on the misshapen "turkey" and proceeded to spew like a pink volcano, prompting a chain reaction that painted the dining room in the vibrant colors of lunch. The last thing I remembered was Harlan's false teeth flying into the gravy boat, and Grandma cursing in Spanish as she pulled off and gnawed on one of the four drumsticks. Fortunately, I passed out after that.
Well, another Christmas gone by. Maybe it wasn't perfect, but it was ours and I will always cherish it. The good news is that we found the real turkey tucked in Penny's dog bed and put it in the freezer for next year.