A Christmas to Forget

A Christmas to ForgetIn years past, the average family fit nicely into one of those shape sorter toys that all toddlers love to play with.  Mom, dad, two kids, two-car garage, picket fence.  It slipped easily into a perfect square.

Today, families come in all shapes and sizes. The two mom, one sperm donor family is like a triangle trying desperately to fit into that square.

Step families with kids from various marriages are like rectangles trying to slip into  seamless circles where everyone gets along.

The single parent with one, two, three kids tries to squeeze itself into whatever shape works best.

I’ve come to accept all of these variations. And I thought I knew about all of them. That was until last year, when I spent Christmas with my machatanista’s family. In Yiddish this word means “your child’s mother-in-law.”  Yiddish is one of the only languages to have a word for this relationship.

But even having a label didn’t make the time spent with her family any more pleasant.

I have to say that it was an unforgettable weekend at that.  And not in the memorable Hallmark movie way.  But more like a frightening Twilight Zone episode.  One in which the main character gets caught in a never-ending loop.

Upon our arrival, I was welcomed into the family.  Hugged. Kissed. Given a job in the kitchen.  All good so far.

But as an outsider, I soon became privy to everyone’s secret.  As I sat there, sipping my Mimosa, which I might add, soon became straight champagne, one by one the family members would sit next to me and confess their dislike of that sister.  Their disappoint in this cousin.  The ways in which they were a better daughter.

I kept thinking it would get better, but it never did.

During dinner (which was hours later than originally planned) voices were raised, accusations made, fingers pointed. I cringed more than one time expecting a glass to go flying.  Eventually, the whole evening turned into one big cry fest.

Somewhere along the way, I traded my champagne in for straight vodka.

This went on for two days until finally it was Christmas morning.  And wouldn’t you know it?  Santa hadn’t arrived yet.  So, the little ones were forced to wait hours upon hours while frantic parents hid upstairs supposedly calling the North Pole.

And to top off the weekend (as if it wasn’t already overflowing with disasters ) there wasn’t any toilet paper in the entire house.  I soon invented a new use for a coffee filter.

On the way home, I reflected on the weekend. I suppose an outsider spending time with my family might think that we were a bit dysfunctional, too.  Not everyone always gets along.  But in the end, we always accept each other.

And they did, too. My last memory of this family was of them standing on their porch waving goodbye. Almost like a Norman Rockwell painting.

They certainly gave a new meaning to the word “shape-shifter.”

And by the time I got home,  I was in no shape to return for another holiday celebration.

At least not this year.

 

Janie Emaus

Janie Emaus is the author of the time travel romance, Before the After and the young adult novel, Mercury in Retro Love. She is a staff writer at www.inthepowderrroom and blogs frequently for The Huffington Post ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/janie-emaus/), Janie believes that when the world is falling apart, we’re just one laugh away from putting it together again. To learn more about Janie visit her blog www.theboomerrants.com and her website www.janieemaus.com 

  16 comments for “A Christmas to Forget

  1. December 18, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Yikes. Best of luck to your kid!

  2. December 18, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    All I can say is …. OMG.
    I have an “interesting” holiday gathering (starts with Thanksgiving and goes through Christmas) but nothing like this one. I am SO very sorry you had to endure that holiday weekend and can’t blame you for not wanting to do it again.

    I hope this year the holidays are MUCH MUCH better for you.

    • December 18, 2012 at 8:39 pm

      They have been already. Thank God!

  3. December 18, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Wow, I’m so sorry. Not that my holidays are the most festive, but what you’ve had to go through is enough to make anyone not want to ever attend a holiday gathering again.

    • December 18, 2012 at 8:40 pm

      I can tell you, I won’t be with those people again. For a very long time.

  4. December 18, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Tear in my eyes – but I think they’re from laughing – you put a humorous twist on a nightmare – which I think will be repeated in many homes (again) this year!
    XO, Cathy

    • December 18, 2012 at 8:41 pm

      Well..not in my home. This year has been pretty good. The usual family stuff. But nothing like last year. I can laugh at it now. In fact, I kept leaving the house last year and calling my sister to tell her what craziness was going on and laughing with her.

  5. Karen Austin
    December 18, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    No toilet paper? I might endure every other aspect of the weekend, but I can’t figure out why any family culture would permit that.

  6. December 18, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    It was a financial thing. I didn’t even get into that part of the story. But really? Toilet paper. If you’re having a house full of guests, you must plan ahead.

  7. December 18, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    That sounds pretty horrid. I am glad I am with the same familiar crowd each year.

  8. Carol A. Cassara
    December 19, 2012 at 11:55 am

    That DOES sound awful. Not sure why people have to be so negative.

    • December 20, 2012 at 2:49 am

      I am not sure they realized how horrible their behavior was.

      • k.stevenson
        December 22, 2012 at 8:00 pm

        they will now

  9. January 1, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    Oh no! I hope this year went better and everybody was happy with the big day. Great story telling.

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