We hosted Christmas day/dinner for my parents/aunt and cousins. Perfect blog material. My parents have been divorced for 30 years. They’re only here because I began refusing to run between their two homes for Christmas. If they want to see us, they’re welcome to come to my house. So far, no one’s refused. My daughter – along with my aunt and older cousin – help to run interference. Usually that works.
Grandpa. Age 79. Diabetic. Hearing problems.
Grandma. Age 79. Mobility problems. Talks a lot.
Auntie B. 75. Diabetic. Nearly blind. Mobility problems.
Older cousin. 52. Never married. Has a dog. Doesn’t drive.
Younger cousin. 50. Recently started going out with her first boyfriend, B. Very picky. Can be prickly.
3 days before Christmas
Remember how I sprained my wrist 2 weeks ago? It still hurts. The more I do with it, the worse it gets. Which means I can’t chop, can’t peel and can’t lift heavy pots.
The brunt of the work will be shouldered by hubby.
I think he loves me.
2 days before Christmas
Auntie B. calls. “Can you set the table for one more?”
“Uh, sure.” Was just saying “no” an option? “Why?”
“Younger cousin’s going to come after all.” Thanks to now having first boyfriend ever – at 50 – she’d let us know a few months ago that “I won’t be coming. I’ll be wherever B. is.”
“B. had a nervous breakdown.”
We pick up Grandpa. The idea is to go out to Swiss Chalet for dinner – we can order the festive special, because fake stuffing the day before Christmas is a good idea.
Swiss Chalet is closed. Christmas Eve dinner: a burger with everything on it.
It’s a Wonderful Life is on TV.
I’m sobbing. Those Angels are Harking and I’m a mess. Yes, George Bailey, it is a wonderful life.
Grandpa already has his gifts packed up and ready to go. He has his hat on.
“You going somewhere?” I ask.
Ready to go nowhere.
Grandma stands at one end of the table, throwing forks in the general direction of each place setting.
“Don’t throw my forks, please,” I say.
“I’m not.” She throws another.
“Don’t throw my good silver, please,” I say, upping the ante.
Granddaughter looks up. “If you stand in one spot and toss stuff to the other end of the table, it’s throwing,” she says knowingly.
“Does anybody want a snack?” I ask. “Crackers and cheese?”
Grandma (who has been on a diet since 1961): “Just one piece of cheese and that’s it.”
I bring up a tray of cheese and crackers. Plus a bit of pate.
Grandpa’s diabetic. He hasn’t eaten yet. I bring up a bit of potato salad, too.
“I don’t want that,” Grandpa says.
“Deb,” Grandma asks. “Why are you working so hard?”
“Do you want to eat?” I retort, rhetorically.
“Deb,” Grandma asks a few minutes later. “How come, every Christmas, your husband spends most of the day in the kitchen?”
We all watch Furby dance.
Younger cousin: “Did you make that cheese ball?” she asks me.
“Nope, I bought it.”
“Oh, I was going to ask what was in it.” She believes she’s allergic to everything. “Just in case.”
“Well, you haven’t dropped dead yet,” I say a bit too loudly. “You should be okay.” My nerves are beginning to fray.
Hubby and I are in the throes of mashing potatoes, draining beans, releasing stuffing, carving turkey.
The knife drops.
“Note to self,” hubby says after incurring 2-inch gouge in the palm of his hand. “When a knife drops, don’t try to catch it.”
We don’t think any blood got on the turkey.
Gathered around the table, everyone comments on how it takes 6 hours of cooking to make a big turkey dinner with all the fixings. And 20 minutes to eat it.
24 minutes. I stand corrected.
Time to whip cream.
I finally got a chance to sit down and talk to people around the table. Nothing else went awry.
We simply had a Merry Christmas – and wish the same to you.
Addendum: Some divorced Christmas dinners end badly, like this one in Burlington, Ontario.