Ah, the holidays. Actually I shouldn’t be overly critical as there is not a whole lot between me and the hollers and/or trailer park, but it’s that time of year when I remember why I only visit the in-laws and even certain obnoxious blood relatives when it’s absolutely necessary.
Every Thanksgiving it’s the same routine. Before I make the obligatory road trip to Cincinnati to my oldest sister’s house so that I can eat a really big piece of Humble Pie- on fine china no less, I have to make the tribute visit to the in-laws, where I will sit on the floor and eat a small slice of white meat turkey (nobody in his family touches the white meat, which is fortuitous for me) off of a Dixie plate with a plastic fork while his sisters’ assorted kids attempt to throttle each other. It’s culture shock on both ends of the spectrum. Going to my sister’s reminds me who is one small step above white trash dumpster diver and who is driving a BMW, vacationing in Switzerland every year, eating off matching dishes ,and who doesn’t have to shop for both clothing and kitchen utensils at garage sales and thrift stores. Frankly when I go to my in-laws I feel like I am going to be a drive-by victim down in the ‘hood, and when I go to my sister’s they might as well paint a big bright sign across the side of my lowly Yaris that reads: ATTENTION- TURD ENTERING THE PUNCHBOWL.
Everyone has family members who inspire mixed emotions. Fortunately for me the most creepy of my relatives are departed- most notably Uncle Bob, who was my twin great-aunt’s husband and therefore not a blood relative. Uncle Bob wasn’t really a bad guy but he really liked nudies. His entire garage where Mom’s side of the family held their big reunions was covered in 1940’s nudie pinups. This was shocking to a five year old who is being raised in a household where nudity was strictly limited to going to the bathroom and taking a bath. Worse yet, Uncle Bob liked to drink beer. Alcohol in any form was strictly forbidden in Mom and Dad’s house. I think my Dad just about went through the ceiling when he looked over and there was my sister- who was maybe seven at the time- chugging a Budweiser. How was she supposed to know that she wasn’t supposed to drink the Budweiser? Especially since Uncle Bob gave it to her?
Then there was Aunt Frances. Aunt Frances was the stereotypical Cat Lady. She weighed about 400# and had at least thirty cats at any given time wandering in and out of her house. I have no problem with cats, but if you’re going to have them, do something about their incessant breeding. When she broke a hip and ended up in the nursing home she would complain and whine that nobody visited her, but when you did visit her she gave you hell about everything from pierced ears to perms (I shudder to think about the commentary she would give me on the subject of hair color) to “foreign” cars. Never mind that my Dad made his living working on ‘foreign” cars. I remember all too well going to pick her up for my sister’s graduation party. She took one look at my Subaru and refused to even try to get in it, even though I had carted around many of my large friends in it without incident. I had to go back home and get my Mom’s Ford (a 1977 LTD II, what a lovely ride…) to cart her large carcass in.
I miss the relatives that are dead but were cool, especially my grandparents, and my great-grandmother. The holidays now are just a reminder of how pathetic I am compared to my sister, how much I miss my grandparents, and how much I really want to try to avoid my in-laws.