|None of these pictures|
|have anything to do|
|with my family|
After being awakened by younger children who wanted to tear into presents. (Claudia's family's tradition is for Claudia's kids and all of their cousins to spend Christmas Eve overnight at Claudia's parents' home and to wake up at unGodly early hour to begin devouring presents and every bit of sugar they can cram into their mouths for the next eighteen hours or so; if I'd known of this tradition earlier, I could have conveniently arranged to spend the night elsewhere -- anywhere but here; even the city's jail would have been an improvement -- but hindsight is typically 20/10.) Those spending the night elsewhere felt obligated by peer pressure to be transported by their hosts to Claudia's parents' home as soon as the phone call came just before 4:30 alerting the parents that their children were awake. Once the group reached the big house en masse, I told my approximate contemporaries that I was going back to sleep and that if they were still in possession of functioning brains, they should find beds wherever they could. Aunt Aletha was a bit taken aback, but what could she really do as everyone under thirty ransacked her house in search of unoccupied beds?
Matthew and Josh crashed on the beds in the room where my parents had been sleeping. Alyssa bunked with me. Tim took his parents' room. Claudia's nephews took their grandparents' rooms and a few other hideaways they knew about. Scott and Jillian's kids were still asleep, and they (Scott and Jillian) weren't stupid enough to wake them (Andrew and Baby Camille) at 4:30 a.m. and have them be cranky all day, so Scott and Jillian slept along with their kids until a more civil hour. Aunt Aletha was at first discombobulated about the gathering being incomplete, but then concluded that overly tired adolescents rarely have a positive impact on any group and that we should be allowed to sleep. Those of us to whom she referred as "adolescents" were, in descending order of age, 33, 29, 27, 26, 25, 25, 24, 23, 22, 22, and 21. That would seem to be a major stretch of the borders defining either adolescents or adolescence, but then, what do I know? I haven't even graduated form medical school yet. And, for that matter, what do I care about how Aunt Aletha delineates adolescence? As long as I'm allowed to decide for myself when to sleep and when to get up during my vacation times, I am a happy camper. Call me a preadolescent, a toddler, or even an octogenarian as long as you let me sleep until I'm ready to get out of bed.
Most of us made it out of bed before 10:00 a.m. We opened real presents from the Austrians, and they opened real presents from us. Uncle Jerry, always practical, had decided that it would be stupid for the Americans to lug presents across the Atlantic, only to have to lug them back to California, paying overweight baggage fees each way, or paying to ship the presents. Instead, Uncle Jerry said, we should take pictures on our cell phones of the gifts and then send the pictures on Christmas morning.
This might have worked had the people to whom my Uncle Jerry made the suggestion been slightly less deranged. I don't think anyone even collaborated on the picture project -- everyone here possesses a sufficiently borderline-psychotic personality to have come up with it on their own --but I sent Matthew a picture of a very homely fourteen-year-old girl holding a sign that said "I'm yours for one night." He sent me a picture of a crate of disposable douches (It's a long story based on a theft my Uncle Mahonri made and was caught and charged for in the Utah Valley). My Aunt Jillian didn't bother with pictures. She just handed out condoms to everyone. Her husband, Scott, gave out certificates for free prostate or pelvic exams. I sent a picture of a framed picture of Charles Manson to my cousin/brother Josh. To my friend Alyssa, who is my Uncle Scott's sister's daughter, I sent a copy of Charles Manson's prison address. I included a copy of Scott Peterson's prison addy as well, as he's quite a bit better looking than Manson. My parents got a photo pf an updated version of The Joy of Sex -- the original edition, dated 1974 give or take a decade, is in their library at home. (There's a long story related to me and their copy of The Joy of Sex. I think it's in this blog somewhere, but I may share it again sometime if I feel inspired.) I sent Aunt Jillian a copy of a gift certificate for a boob job at a swanky practice in Beverly Hills. I had my Uncle Steve write out a prescription for Viagra for my dad just long enough for me to photograph it. He tore it up immediately after I snapped the picture. I took a picture of a picture of the White House for my Uncle Jerry. Uncle Jerry cannot legally hold the office of President of the United States because he was born in Cuba, but he can buy it when Trump puts it up for sale. When that happens, I will help him. I'll contribute anywhere between one dollar and ten-thousand dollars to his effort, depending upon my financial status at the time the White House becomes available for sale. My available contribution is likely to be closer to a dollar than to ten thousand dollars, but that's just between you and me.
A large buffet table of breakfast foods including but not limited to fruits, meats, and pastries, was available, and guests were encouraged to eat heartily. I took and ate enough food to keep aunt Aletha from crying anorexia. It was my gift to her.
I won't waste any more of your time sharing stories about the lame gifts my family pretended to give each other or even the actual gifts that will in at least some instances will be given. That's not what Christmas is about in my family.
In my extended family, Christmas is about who defeats whom in the medical edition of a trivia game similar to trivial pursuit. It's about who eats the most and who becomes the most inebriated. It's about which baby steals all the other babies' toys. It's about the Oakland Raiders losing. It's about how much of a wenis Derek Carr is because the fibula is hardly even a weight-bearing bone. It's about taking turns shooting apples off the kids' heads using plastic arrows. (Aunt Aletha was horrified even though we offered the kids the option of wearing sunglasses and only berated them mildly if they took us up on the offer.) It's about who can come up with the most obnoxious prayer at dinner time. It's about just how farcical the annual nativity pageant can be made to be, especially when juxtaposed with what is happening on the other side of the world simultaneously as told by the Book of Mormon. It gets even worse when two of Aunt Aletha's children and two of her grandchildren want to lip-sync a song from the sound track of The Book of Mormon, the musical. When it got to the part with the pool noodles, the woman turned pale and looked as though she might be in need of resuscitation, which would have been OK because there were more than ten doctors in the house, not counting the four medical school students.
I'm afraid we may have given Aunt Aletha a somewhat distorted view of just how generally crass, irreverent, and crude Americans are. I say "somewhat" because Americans really are, except for the fundies, at least a bit crass, irreverent, and crude. and that's the good side of the Americans. The fundies, in all their holier-than-thou splendour, are much harder to take than are the rest of us.
To our credit, we did at least provide Aunt Aletha with a powerful choir to impress all of her neighbors when we went out caroling. I use the term "we" ever so loosely here, as I'm not a good singer and did very little to contribute to the overall sound of the group. I'm the queen of on-key-yet-astonishingly-lousy singing. You don't want me in your choir unless you have no one else who can sing on-key without an anchor.
The visit still has another week or so to go, during which we will either redeem ourselves or dig even more deeply into the hole of depravity. We've invited Aunt Aletha and her family to spend Christmas with us next year or the following year -- whichever year works out better for them. Will they show up, or will Aunt Aletha conclude that her progeny have already been so corrupted by our presence on her own turf that God only knows what might happen if they're allowed to run loose on our native soil?
Only time will tell.
|. . .nuclear OR extended . . .|
|I'm including them only to show|
|that there are people out there even worse than we are|