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Home for the Holidays: Day 5

Well, it's 12:35 p.m. and we've finally finished opening all the presents and breakfasting. The whole gifting thing doesn't hold a ton of interest for me these days - everyone showers the kids and their own spouses with stuff, and then, well, there's the afterthought: Me. Consequently, I received one of those lights that people who don't do well in winter in Northern climes are supposed to sit next to every day til summer comes; a pillow from Turkey (my parents visited there this year - my siblings received rugs); a necklace from Greece (not much of a jewelry girl, but the stones are nice); some sheets, which was probably the best gift; and the new Tom Waits, which I'd been wanting. I can usually count on my brother to get me something that I actually want.

The rest of the time, I just stare off into space while everyone else opens millions of gifts.

Now it's time to clean up the loot (I think I can get most of it upstairs in one trip), then avoid being co-opted into the making of Christmas Dinner. Of course, I should probably decide which is the lesser of two evils - the making of or the cleaning up from. Sheesh, pressure on all sides. My parents had to give their dog a Xanax this morning. If a dog in this family gets that stressed, you can only imagine what it does to a human being.

3:54 P.M.: We are preparing to eat Christmas dinner. I swear, all we ever do is eat around here. Already my sister has said, "Wow, you've put on a lot of weight since I saw you in September!" Thanks. I've been waiting for my mom to pull me aside and stage whisper "Your pants are too tight in the crotch!" She has to say this at least once an official visit.

All this aside, it does smell pretty damn good. My uncle sent a smoked turkey, and my brother-in-law is a gourmet chef (on the side). Not looking so good for skiing tomorrow - it's pouring rain and looks positively grim out there. I'm glad I was able to stay in and sleep. That's right, I haven't helped one bit. I slept my afternoon away, and I'm better for it, in every way, shape, and form. Now, maybe there won't be the annual "Christmas Afternoon Row," which occurs when I allow one of my parents to bait me into one of the continuing themes of my life (being poor, being under- or unemployed, dressing inappropriately non-mainstream, being too thin, having weirdos for friends, ad infinitum).

On the gift front, my nephew got a truly weird one. There's this show now called Boohbah, a spin-off of Teletubbies that's utterly psychadelicized, and he loves it. This being my one-year-old nephew, Daniel, not the eight-year-old, Robert. Anyway, this crazy toy says "BoooooooBaaaaah" when you press it's hand or foot, waves its hands around, squats down and makes a noise like a fart (seriously here, folks), and then does a ridiculous little dance. My nephew has the dance down and everything. Fortunately he skips the fart.

Santa brings gift cards now - Robert got a gift card for a Nintendo Wii. Santa's pretty hip.

Well, it's time to go cram some more food down my throat. And drink. All the drinking definitely helps the situation around here.

Hope everyone else is having a blast.

6:46 P.M.: We have eaten ourselves sick, and we opened our crackers, and we all wore paper crowns (I am still wearing mine - yellow this year, and there was a tiny squirt gun in my cracker. I tried to squirt my niece and inadvertently got my one-year-old nephew in the ear, which did not make him happy.)

The Christmas Dinner Debate (and open mockery of me) was over the gelatanized cranberries. I refused to eat them because I do not eat pork. No one at the table believed me that there is ground-up pig's feet (among other swinish delights) in gelatin, and so the table jeered and joked until I finished my meal, calmly got up, went to the computer, and printed out the entry for "Gelatin" from Wikipedia. Sure enough, the connective tissue of "either porcine or bovine" is a major ingredient, so my point was proven, and they took it pretty well. But they still make fun of me for not eating pork.

I don't particularly care, as this has been going on for some years, but I would think it would get tiresome for them. At least this year my father conceded when it came to buying seperate turkey bacon for me, so I guess that's progress. I swear, I'll never understand why it takes jeering and mocking to make this family feel good, rather than generally supportive gestures.

Off to the Family Game.

9:58 P.M.: So we managed to miss the Christmas Night Family Game by taking several hours (in shifts, no less) to tidy up the kitchen. Then there was the ubiquitous watching of football, but I escaped to the second, ancient television, which is in my parents' room, for my nightly fix of CSI: Miami. I know it was a gesture meant to bridge a gap, but my mother, who sounds as though she has croup, said if I would catch her up during commercials, she'd watch with me. This was not what I'd intended for my evening. I could scarcely hear over her coughing, I developed a sympathetic cough as well, and every five seconds, I had to explain (1) Who the characters were, (2) What the plotline was, (3) The basics of forensic science. Maybe I'm just overeducated from watching eight million forensics documentaries, but I felt like I was teaching a remedial Evidence course.

"Yes, that's called Luminol, it shows where there's blood. Fibers in cars are always trilobal, which means they have three sides, so it's significant to find a fiber that isn't, which is why they're excited. Yes, Horatio is being set up by the bad guy."

Oh well, at least she tried.

Christmas is exhausting. I want to go home to Chicago, curl up with my dog, visit with my cat, eat at the Flying Saucer, and get back to my life. Two days to go. If I make it that long.

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
* Home for the Holidays: Day 4 (Christmas Eve)



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Posted on December 25, 2006


MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.

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


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