Christmas has become the traditional time of year for reconnecting with family members, several perhaps seldom seen.
In media, from paintings to movies, renewing ties with kith and kin has been bathed in a kind of glowing Norman Rockwell light.
One has visions of the extended clan, pressed and dressed, gathered around a fire place hung with lovely wreaths and Christmas stockings, while a Yule Log burns cheerfully in the grate. Everyone is immaculately dressed, perfectly coiffed, holding glasses of festive eggnog while pleasant, muted conversations take place. In these visions, even the family pets, brushed, sanitized, wearing appropriate bows and jackets, sit in docile meekness. Everyone is just so utterly…civilized. Dream on.
First of all, when I went home to the bosom of my family for Christmas, Puddin’ the Cat, the Orange Menace, was already waiting. Visions of sugar plums armed with Uzis danced in her head.
There are three comfy couches, two beds, several wing chairs and a thick plush carpet for Puddin’ to freely lay on in her house. There is only one room in the entire place with a door closed to her. My room.
So where do I find her at 1:45 a.m. one (rather late) night? In the middle of my bed, snarling. In the end, I had to flip an entire duvet on to the floor to get her off my “property” and ultimately out the door. The result was terrible hissing and biting and a lot of foul language. (That may have been both of us.)Let me assure you, it was not the Rockwell loyal family pet moment so favoured in art.
On the 25th, following grace, the extended family sat down to Christmas dinner (all 28 of us). There was plenty of wonderful, delicious food, but it is my belief that certain nephews fasted for at least two days before the meal. Plates of turkey and dressing arrived at my spot at the far end of the table already empty. Someone ate all the olives. How could both gravy boats be empty three times when I went to pour? I never even saw the mashed potatoes!
Unfortunately, littlest cousin W. also arrived at the family dinner oozing snot and greenish pus from both eyes. “Just a non-contagious little cold,” his parents assured everyone cheerily. Be that as it may, the vision of Little W., leaking, may have dampened a lot of enthusiasm for a large green molded cream jello. This was the bowl, however, that did get to me.
There were no charming family poses by the fire place; no elegant conversations. The uproar at the dinner table alone would have done the tarmac at Pearson International proud. Ad-libs during a family sing-along were designed to make Front Line troops blush. Someone actually upended that carton of festive eggnog. And it was obviously every man for himself when the pecan pie was served….
Reconnecting with a real family at Christmas time – wouldn’t have missed it for the world!