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Home for the Holidays: Day 4

So I managed to escape last night's activities by zonking out shortly after 6:30 p.m. and not getting up til after eight this morning (minus a 4:30 a.m. forage for Christmas cookies and a drink). My father did bring the phone in around 8:30 last night, after I'd been dead asleep and taken my regular retinue of prescription drugs, so I could talk to my best childhood friend. Whether she understood a word I was saying remains to be seen. I don't have much recollection of the conversation myself. I know from other people's descriptions that I sound like I'm utterly soused in those situations, so it must have at least been amusing for her.

My mother is definitely sick - never in my life have I known her to sleep til quarter til 10. Definitely throws a wrench in the works - it's so hard for her to talk she has yet to criticize my clothing. Maybe I just always need to visit when she's under the weather. It might really improve our relationship.

I got new running shoes yesterday - my New Year's dealie is that I'm going to take up jogging, which is a bit of a laugh since I hate jogging, but that's beside the point.

Also, my dad was decent enough to swing by the cemetery that one of my best pals, Ken, is buried in, so I could hang around and talk for a few minutes. I like to give him an update when I can, but I'm never out here. His family really sucks. He died in '95 (car accident) and they still haven't put up a marker, just left the plastic one from the funeral home, which is missing most of the letters, so now it just says "Long," without his first and middle name. A couple of years ago, I wrote them and offered to put up a stone and they never responded.

But no reason to dwell on the sad stuff. It's Christmas Eve morning. My sister and her husband arrive from Philly, where they've been visiting his parents, sometime today. Although many promises have been made that they will be here in time for church (we have to go to the 5 p.m. kiddie service or Daniel, my one-year-old nephew, won't make it), we all know they'll be late, which will lead to many hard feelings and delightful recriminations. Not by or from me, but everyone else will be good and pissed, cos, aside from the fact 'tis the season to be jolly, they are late for everything, and for some reason this is universally annoying to nearly everyone.

More to come, once all the yelling starts. I wonder if my dad has his horrid old plaid Christmas jacket, and if we'll have a drunk Christmas, like when I was a kid. Probably not if we're going to early church.

12:45 P.M.: It is now 12:45 p.m. and I might shortly lose my gourd. Earlier, I got out on my own for a bit so I could finish getting stuff for my brother-in-law's stocking, but otherwise, everywhere I go, there's someone, or noise drifting in from another room. My eventual solution was to plug in my iPod headphones and lie down on the couch, but that brought a series of questions from a series of people.

"Tired?"
"Not really."
"Cold?"
"I was til I found this blanket."
"Listening to music?"
"Er, yes."
"If you're hungry there's soup and leftover pork from last night and honeybaked ham."
"I don't eat pork, thanks."
"Freaked out?" (This from my slightly more perceptive father.)
"Not really. I just live in a very . . . quiet world."

The computer is, inconveniently, not a laptop and therefore without Wi-Fi, and is in the room with the ancient, out-of-tune piano.

So I've listened to Massive Attack along with my niece's pounded out version of "O Holy Night" and now it's Neil Young along with some hymn or other. Absolutely brain-scrambling.

Apparently, they're going to watch a movie soon, which should be the saving of me, since I can go hang out upstairs and lose myself in iPod heaven. Because I can't take much more of piano hell.

3:27 P.M.: I managed to avoid nearly everyone all day. It's a Christmas miracle! By plugging in my earphones and moving from room to room, I found a strategy that worked exceedingly well. Spied on the neighbor kids a bit - I remember when they had no kids. Now they have six, and the youngest is taller than I am. I feel old.

Ran back out to the cemetery with a letter for my pal Ken. I miss him a good bit - and it just nags at me that his family doesn't seem to care that much. They did put a wreath over his plastic marker, so I put my letter under it, and I hope they find it and know that someone does go out there, and someone gives a rat's ass that he's gone. A few remembrances, and a few of the really awful things that I'm pretty glad he missed - 9/11, Iraq, George W., etc.

My sister and her husband have managed to avoid arriving in time for 5 o'clock church (with the Christmas Pageant), and my mom is too sick to go - I can't believe she's skipping it! So the rest of us are trooping off without them. Why I'm going I'm not sure. I'm a-religious, really, but I suppose I like some of the traditions. The adult ones, anyway. A bunch of kids in burlap sacks pretending to be shepherds I can do without.

3:31 P.M.: If my niece doesn't stop bungling "The 12 Days of Christmas" on the piano there will be a homicide to report.

5:35 P.M.: The cover of the program for the church pageant had a child's drawing of Jesus and Co. in the stable. The animals consisted of a donkey and a duck. Definitely a sign of interesting things to come.

The program stated that "the lights will be dimmed" during the pageant. Apparently, dimmed has a different meaning in Pennsylvania than in Chicago - the pageant was conducted in complete and total darkness. With hymns by the congregation, no less. There was a kid with an incredibly bright flashlight, but he was apparently meant to be lighting the cast. Occasionally, his flashlight would sweep the crowd, causing masses of people to raise their programs to their eyes.

We performed "Silent Night" in sign language. Am I the only one to find that ironic?

Well, everyone's home and gathered, and there are pictures to be taken. And wine to be drunk. Salud!

Claudia Hunter is the Beachwood's pseudononymous holiday affairs correspondent. She is reporting from the homefront in Central Pennsylvania. Previously:

* Home for the Holidays: The Preamble
* Home for the Holidays: Day 1
* Home for the Holidays: Day 2
* Home for the Holidays: Day 3



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Posted on December 24, 2006


MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
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SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Don't Let Your Pet OD.


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