The Christmas in July sales, attempting to stimulate our lousy economy, have instead stimulated my (usually) once-yearly holiday trauma flashback memories. This unusually rich vein of blog fodder is the result of a simple equation – number of holidays I have experienced in my life, plus the number of siblings and their assorted spouses(s) and children, multiplied by both my parents or [H + S(sp+ch)] X P = ho ho ho.
Holidays were schizophrenic because my Dad had a “Who” mentality which meant there could never be enough tinsel, decorations or carols, and my Mom had a bare bones, Jesus-was-born-in-a-manger-why-do-we-need-all-this-crap approach. And theirs was a marriage very much about taking sides and scoring points so, child pawns were useful.
My Dad insisted on putting up the live tree Thanksgiving weekend even though he knew my mother would be sick of the messy needles long before Christmas, and he wouldn’t take it down until New Years day. A major problem with this plan was that there was no place in my parents tiny house to put the tree. Each year one of my brothers would wrestle an easy chair from the living room up to the boys bedroom for the duration. This reduced the seating in the living room to a couch and a chair (4 seats) and my dads chair, which no one sat in even when he wasn’t home. A festive and cheerful atmosphere was thus created.
My Dad died slowly, and at home, just a few weeks before Christmas so my mother went all out and decorated the whole house the way he liked, tinsel and all. Then on Christmas eve, 15 days after we buried him, she gave all her children a special present and had us all open them at the same time. Imagine our surprise when it was a framed picture of dead Daddy! I went into the kitchen and did shots of whiskey with my brother. A much more appropriate tribute to my father, who really knew how to drink.
The next year my mother put out a ceramic, table top Christmas tree with blue lights, put her crèche on the mantle and we never saw the tinsel in that house again. Ho ho ho.