Christmas with the Cleavers

I am one not of those people who looks forward to Christmas with joy, hope and visions of sugarplums dancing in my head. Instead, I experience a general malaise throughout December with increasing dread toward the Day itself, followed by relief when it’s all over, and guilt for hating it (because of all those people out there who have it so much worse).

It wasn’t always like this. My family was never the Cleavers, but we maintained a certain level of tradition, cheerfulness, and reasonably thoughtful gift-giving. People sat down to dinner, had wine, and wore those stupid paper hats. Over time, though, the family nuttiness that had always simmered just below the surface began to boorishly show up, uninvited, to Christmas dinner. Now, the Kaiser and I race out to see my family early on Christmas morning because they are not capable of having Christmas on their own. Did I mention this is a four hour drive through snow covered mountains? Nice scenery, but a long drive, especially when we’ve just stayed up until two the night before at the Kaiser’s parents’ place. We can’t miss Christmas Eve there, either, but that’s another story.

When we arrive at my Dad’s place, we immediately drive off again to pick up my aunt, and then begin making Christmas dinner. My brother will emerge from the basement, where he lives, to collect his plate of turkey, then disappear again. I will have to call my sister and her husband to find out if they’re coming over. They say they’ll come, but they really won’t. They would rather sit in their apartment by themselves watching TV and eating Alphaghetti (because they’re both disabled and can’t cook real food) than spend an hour with their pathetic family. My aunt will silently endure dinner, then ask to be taken home where she can be alone, even though she’s alone every single other day of her life and doesn’t particularly like that. Well, I’ll cut her some slack because Christmas depresses her. Best to be done with it as soon as possible.

Then there are the presents. Oh, goody. Here’s a Corner Gas fan book from my brother, grabbed in haste from the bargain bin at London Drugs at 4:30 pm on December 24. He’s now bragging about his shopping skills to the Kaiser. Good thing I spent so much time picking out the perfect gift for him. And what’s this? A $6.99 Walmart gift basket full of stinky, cheap soap from my sister. Disabled or not, she could do a lot better with that $6.99. I just remembered, she wants me to drive my gift over to her when we’re finished eating dinner and cleaning up the dishes. It’s not going to happen, but she’ll keep calling and asking. No, the presents aren’t important, but if they stopped giving presents, stopped even that tiny little effort, what would be left?

Well, at least my dad makes an effort, and really, he’s the only reason I do this at all. I’ll keep that in mind as I pick up my brother’s gift for this year – a Scooby Doo Chia Pet. Two can play the game.

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~ by standupmimi on November 28, 2008.

2 Responses to “Christmas with the Cleavers”

  1. I can soooooo relate.

  2. Hey – Merry Christmas, Krepthin…

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