Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Family Tradition

Every family has certain traditions to follow during the holidays. Some families go to church. Some families gather around the piano and sing Christmas carols. Some families light the Yule log or read from the Bible or chop down a live Christmas tree and decorate it on Christmas Eve in front of a roaring fire.

We’re not that kind of family.

My nuclear family is small—just my mom, my dad, my sister, and myself--but our personalities are big. We take up a lot of space, both emotionally and physically. We are loud. We are hyper. We curse like sailors. We burp and fart and yell. And at Christmas time, we generally gather at my parents’ ranch house in BEAVER COUNTY, Pennsylvania, and shout and laugh and fight and make up and stuff our faces and open some presents and watch a lot of TV.

I know I can count on eating stuffed cabbage, stuffed shells, pasta, potato salad, various cream-cheese based dips, and of course, cookies. I know I can count on pot after pot of strong brewed coffee. I know I can count on the dog barking so loudly that it turns my father’s clapper lamp on and off, on and off. I know I can count on my sister making me laugh so hard that I will spit some sort of liquid across some recently cleaned surface, causing my mother to scream at me. I know I can count on my mom tuning into Wish 99.7 FM, which plays Christmas songs 24 hours a day. I know I can count on spiceboy showing up late on Christmas Eve after a busy night at the restaurant, and that we’ll all greet him with shouts and hellos and hugs and a heaping plate of food.

There are always dogs barking and phones ringing and radios playing and televisions blaring and people talking at all hours of the day. There are mechanical figurines of Santa and Mrs. Claus perched on a table. There is a plush, 3 ft singing snowman in our living room. There is a miniature fiber optic tree in the kitchen, a full-sized Christmas tree in the living room, and two miniature plastic trees in our front garden. There is a Santa figurine that plays the saxophone and at least 10 scary nutcracker soldiers lining the mantle. There are Christmas lights thrown over anything that doesn’t move.

It’s a big, electric, plastic, spastic Christmas wonderland, and I love it. I love it in the same way I love Graceland or Wall Drug or anything that is glittery, over the top, larger than life. It’s utterly disorienting and thrilling and crazy and delicious and about as far from a Normal Rockwell painting as you can get.

I guess we’re just that kind of family.


Blogger Rachel said...

i think your kind of family sounds like more fun!

5:10 PM  
Blogger snob in the city said...

That sounds a whole lot like my family holiday experience. Love them to pieces...but it always gets a little hectic. Not sure if your family ends up playing cards or boardgames in the evening, but that's when the true madness can ensue. (Watching my father mime "Pee Wee Herman" has forever scarred me...) Love the thing you can only do in front of your family.

7:39 PM  
Blogger 000 said...

Sounds lovely, ESG. It makes me want to have Christmas all over again so that I can try my hand at making this a little hectic. No matter how nuts your family is, you gotta love 'em!

11:36 AM  
Blogger e d scott said...

THAT was scary! I peed my pants.

12:37 PM  
Blogger artdetective said...

Mmmm, brewed coffee.

You make the whole thing sound utterly appealing.

You have to love family in-humor. When I was home, my mom sneezed and farted at the same time at the dinner table and we all cracked up. I know some homes where that might be frowned upon...

10:02 AM  

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