That may seem like a harsh title without any context. It will probably still seem harsh even after I’ve given you some. About 9 months ago my wife suggested that we host Christmas this year for our relatives. I told her sure, yeah, why not? Not because I really wanted to do it, but because I knew that all my relatives were scattered across two countries and this would NEVER happen.
Eleven of the relatives that were invited RSVP’d, “Ho, Ho, Ho. We will go.” Those, plus my wife and I, equal thirteen. That total was an unheeded warning. I’m talking about this like it was a complete disaster. It wasn’t. We had a good time, but when you get 13 people, two 100 pound dogs, and a puppy (yes, there was a puppy, more on this later) together in a small 1600 square foot home for two plus weeks, drama is sure to abound. For someone with a tad bit of social anxiety, this can be a lot to process.
I’m not going to get into specifics because there is a good chance that at least one of my guests knows about this blog. I will give you a summary though.
Let’s start with one that most families probably deal with. The alcoholic. If you are a regular reader of this blog you probably think that would be me. I wish it had been so I could have been blissfully drunk through out the whole thing. But it was not. This particular family member can down a bottle of wine in no time. I’m not talking about your standard size either. Oh no. I am talking about that big mother fucking bottle that you can fit like three of the regular bottles inside. Depending on the color of the wine, it made this family member either really loving or really angry. You’d think one would be better than the other. You’d be wrong. They were both annoying. BTW, white = loving; red = angry.
We have two large golden retrievers who are pretty much our kids now since our real ones are grown and own their own. A good portion of the visiting relatives are not dog people. Where I grew up, dogs were tolerated outside and never allowed in the house. This sentiment was still prevalent among those non dog people relatives. It was a constant battle between them trying to shuffle our kids outside for the entire duration of their visit, and us who kept insisting that just because dogs have fur doesn’t mean they don’t get cold from the icicles hanging off said fur. So to make this scenario even better we decided to introduce a puppy to the mix. Well not exactly decide, more like got roped into. My wife runs a Facebook group for owners of golden retrievers from the same breeder we got our dogs from. We all got together and gifted a puppy to the autistic daughter of our neighbor for therapy/companion purposes. This in itself is a wonderful thing and we were happy to be part of it. However, since we weren’t sure we could raise the funds, we did not inform her parents until several weeks before we made it happen. They already had plans to travel for Christmas and could not take a puppy with them. One of our relatives volunteered to stay at their house and take care of the puppy while they were gone. At the last minute, that relative ended up having to cancel their visit and even though a couple of other relatives tried to take up the slack, we pretty much ended up with the puppy at our house the whole time. If you’ve never raised a puppy, it’s pretty much like raising a baby, except the baby pees and poops in a diaper and doesn’t try to chew up everything in your house, including your toes. My oldest dog absolutely could not stand the puppy and tried to decapitate her more than once. My youngest dog absolutely loved the puppy and tried to literally smother her with that love. There were a lot of canine capers to contend with.
We had a very self centered relative that only liked things their way and would not compromise even a little on anything. We had several people, including my wife, come down with the flu. We had some relatives that were content to stay at home and visit and others that wanted to be out doing something everyday. We had problems with rental cars and lending cars. A hike that I had planned halfway through the visit in order to sooth the anxiety causing, glass shard ridden brain that I was sure to possess (and did) had to be cancelled due to extreme cold temperatures. There was a blizzard, cancelled flights, and a sewer back up. Then there was what I call The Gluten War.
One of our relatives did not eat anything with gluten in it. Even though I think this can be taken to extremes sometime, I respect other peoples choice to eat what they want and not what they don’t want. I’ll make certain concessions if I can, but only up to a point. Beyond that it is up to the one who chooses to eat that way to take care of themselves. This particular relative was good with that. However, another relative who liked to cook for everyone could not stand non-gluten eaters. However, this relative would employ passive-aggressive tactics by claiming to accept this choice and then complain to everyone else about it. The pro-gluten relative would prepare a dish that she proclaimed to be gluten free. The non-gluten relative would then find something wrong with it (sometimes warranted and sometimes not) and refuse to eat it. Words would then be had, shortly followed by screaming, then crying, then storming off to another part of the house, which is not very far away in my case. Eventually everyone would apologize and then the whole viscous cycle would repeat itself at the next meal time. God bless us everyone.
Now that I’ve pretty much been a Grinch throughout this whole post, let’s get my heart to grow three sizes and tell you the good stuff. Two of my children have been step-siblings for 14 years and just met for the very fist time. They got along splendidly. I got to meet one of my sons new girl friend and she was a delight. We got to eat some amazing food despite all the difficulties in bringing that about. We got to make some little relatives very happy on Christmas day. We played a lot of games and I think this was my favorite part. I am a game player of the highest order but we don’t really have any close game playing friends. We have to take advantage of game playing family members when they are around. We played cards, board games, and video games. We played dominoes and a giant version of Jenga that a non-OSHA certified Santa Claus brought for everyone. Those pieces could cause serious bodily injury when falling, but oh so fun.
So while there was plenty of drama we still managed to have a good time. However, this all goes to reinforce my choice of Thanksgiving as my favorite holiday. You come one day, you eat, you drink, you watch football, then you go home.
So you came, Merry Christmas, you ate and drank, Happy New Year, you watched football and played games, now get the fuck out.