Huh for the Holidays
I'm busily preparing for my trip to the North Country, including two days of Christmas in Vermont with my father's side of the family, a nice enough crew who nonetheless refer to both me and the dog by the childlike y-ending version of our names. An eerily silent and unemotional bunch, the Buns and Liquor family is dependent on cards and board games to get us through the 48 hours we spend together each year; I worry that in the event of a death in the family, the remorse would only last until it became apparent that the even number of players required for Spades had been thrown off, at which point it would be demanded that I reproduce immediately and the child be taught the game in utero.
As the sole grandchild in the family for 14 years, I was required to learn to play cards right around the same time I learned the word for "card". Upon making a bad strategic play at the tender age of 8, my grandfather (a man so unable to grasp the very idea of youth that I have to assume that my father and uncle sprung forth fully-formed, Athena-style from my grandmother) turned to me and demanded that I pay the loser's fee; it's an odd choice, explaining to your child the concept of trump before going over procreation, but I picked up both eventually.
Baby's first Caribbean stud, low hole card wild
My family's not that big on gifts and has no real access to stores, so what few presents that are exchanged are overwhelmingly practical in nature; last year's collection of travel-sized shampoos and toothpastes pretty much signified the end of whatever youthful noel innocence I'd retained. It was also the first year that my cousins were informed that there was no Santa Claus, mercifully allowing the rest of us to stop our half-assed routine of pretending to be excited to open our gifts from "Santa" and then feigning great joy when we got those new Brita Water Filter replacement cartridges that the elves had been working on all year.
A contribution to my 401k? Thank you baby Jesus.
A lifetime late-sleeper, my parents have long delighted in torturing me as I slept peacefully, from my father's favorite "alarm clock" (throwing a cup of cold water on my head, running like a coward), to the series of unflattering photographs that my mother took as I lay unconscious following my wisdom teeth operation, for use as cautionary tales for her dental patients. Back when my cousins were smaller, my mother encouraged them to wake me up on Christmas morning using any means possible (the year that they donned their new wizard costumes before physically prying my eyes open with their tiny, creepy fingers was a particularly memorable, Clockwork Orange-esque way to start the day); now at the ages of 48, 14 and 11, the game has apparently not lost its luster, and I still find myself brought to consciousness by 170 pounds of teenager jumping onto my stomach as 120 pounds of mother documents the occasion. As the boy cousin is starting to get a little beefy, I pray to God this is the year teenage angst kicks in and they start finding the idea of doing anything adults tell them stupid.