While Choocch ravaged the pile of gifts (I didn’t get one single thing and still, my bottom lip did not protrude), all the cats hid safely in the basement. Except for Nicotina (see also: Speck, Breakfast Nook) who was right up in it, playing with wrapping paper scraps and twist ties.
Because we’re stupid parents, nearly everything we bought required assembly. I attemped to master the instructions that came with an airport playset, but quickly found that drool was pooling in the corner of my mouth and my hands were beginning to curl inward. Henry took over and had it erected in a matter of minutes, but he left the sheet of stickers intact for my enjoyment.
And here is where Christmas quickly spiraled into a clusterfuck on par with being fucked by barbed wired dildos: I think I might have a mild form of OCD, I don’t know, but I found that the tiniest slight in sticker application was bringing my blood to a rolling boil. Henry kept saying completely insensitive things like, “What are you retarded? You can’t put a fucking sticker on properly?” and, as I was twisting my arm around Chooch’s fat head, trying to slap a sticker on the airport tower, “Here’s a thought: Why not wait until Chooch is done playing before putting the stickers on?” I couldn’t stop. In fact, I was about to get out a fucking level to ensure precision. Then, to Chooch, he says, “Ignore her Chooch. She doesn’t understand that you just want to play. She’s a GIRL.”
And then this exchange happened: “Shut the fuck up! I’m more of a boy than you’ll ever be! Get back in the fucking kitchen you bitch!” And he did. Henry went right the fuck back in that kitchen and continued coddling the eggs he was was hardboiling for our picnic. He’s such a bitch I’m surprised he didn’t try to breast feed them, too.
And here is where I regressed to the emotionally undeveloped age of five: I noticed that while I was undergoing the diligent, steady-handed task of toy embellishing, Chooch was in the process of peeling off every sticker I had painstakingly smoothed on. And I lost it. Absolutely flipped my shit and shrieked, “OH MY GOD WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT JUST FORGET IT TODAY IS FUCKING RUUUUUIIIIINNNNEDDD!!!!” No exaggeration. I said that. In high-pitched, calling-all-dogs mode. And then I stormed off to my bedroom, where I slammed the door behind me and layed in bed, staring at the ceiling for fifteen minutes until the electrical currents stopped zapping my nerves.
And then the rest of the day was great! Really fucking good. No fighting, no tears.
I got Chooch an Edgar Allen Poe doll. Judging by his confusing expression in this photo, you can tell he just loves it. “Great, Mommy’s projecting her interests on me again. I wish I could just get a shittin’ Elmo like normal kids my age.”
Then it was off to the Uniondale Cemetery (going to the cem on Christmas is kind of our accidental tradition, I guess), where we had a very fast and frigid picnic consisting of egg salad sandwiches, pretzels, cheese cubes, and frozen strawberries (per Chooch’s request). Yes, it was a feast for kings, to be sure. For the record, the shopping list I gave Henry the day before demanded things like “a delicious array of rich cheeses” and “hearty artisan bread for which to sandwich the delicious array of rich cheeses,” among other fine products you might find in a palace’s pantry. All Henry got was eggs to hardboil, bland wheat rolls that were so dry they sucked the mayo from the egg salad, and two packages of Helluva Good.But I didn’t complain. I guess I’m complaining now, but the point is that I didn’t complain THEN. As in, on CHRISTMAS. I kept my maw packed with picnic fixin’s and distracted myself with the camera.
The coldness kept us from enjoying a lingering tour of the cemetery, and Henry and I were desperate to leave after twenty minutes. Chooch had other plans and took off, slaloming through tombstones and whacking trees with sticks while chomping on a pretzel; probably I’m sure this is some nefarious sequence used to raise Samhain. Chasing him down, I panted, “Come on, we have to go home! The zombies are coming!” and he replied, “Aw, cute. Zombies!” None of my lies work on this kid.
Later, we stopped over my dad’s, where Henry presented him with a case of Faygo rootbeer in bottles. Apparently, this was a good gift because my dad got that nostalgic glaze over his eyes and began regaling us of the good old days when soda was a luxury and if your parents gave you a glass bottle of Cola, you damn well drank it to the last drop. Henry I’m sure remembers those days too.
Now, my dad and Henry haven’t spent much time together, and my brother told me that when Henry and I first got together my dad didn’t approve because of the age difference. But that case of old fashioned root beer just may have brought them together, as evidenced by the jolly way my dad was patting Henry on the back, offering him kielbasi and referring to him as “buddy.”
My other, less-mentioned brother Ryan was there too, but only emerged from the basement long enough to hit up the bathroom. “Did Ryan say hello to you?” my dad asked. And I said, “If a head-nod counts as a hello, then yes. Yes, he said hello to me.”
My dad’s house is always so warm and cozy. I should spend more time there. But instead, I only opt for the requisite holiday face-showing. I’m a horrible daughter. (Somewhere, my mom is cackling and rejoicing, “She admits it!”)
Back at home, we spent the rest of the night eating nut rolls and chocolate, and watching Chooch play with his Thomas train tracks. And I got drunk.
So maybe my family (Mom’s side) is a bunch of pathological nut jobs and so maybe we didn’t have a Christmas tree and so maybe we didn’t even set out cookies for the fat man on Christmas Eve, but by golly I wasn’t going to let my Christmas go down the shitter. All that really mattered anyway was the Chooch was happy, and I’d be willing to bet that, based on the deliriously goofy smile that was plastered on his grubby face all day, he was pretty fucking delighted. And oh, look who likes Poe after all!