Christmas isn’t really my “thing.” After writing this essay, I might have figured out why.
I remember my first Christmas not going as expected. I had been forgotten in the class gift exchange. As I stood giftless and crying in my golden-toned snowsuit with the plastic black belt, my teacher rummaged through her desk drawer and pulled out a pink hand mirror. A used pink hand mirror. A highly coveted gift for any stylish first grader. I cried even more after she gave it to me.
My senior year in high school brought another dreaded gift exchange. No! No! I said. They went ahead and of course my greatest fear was realized. Forgotten in the gift exchange—again. No pink mirror this time. Instead time my teacher sent me some green branch thing with an apology note.
Christmas at home were different, too.
We weren’t allowed to open Christmas gifts until my dad had a cup of coffee and a couple smokes. He would kneel down by the gifts, with his cigarette dangling out of his mouth and toss our gifts to us. I always wondered if the day would come and the ashes would flick down onto the Christmas paper and catch everything on fire.
One year we went bowling, before going to bowling or to the movies was what people did on Christmas.
So, when I married into Mr. Fun’s large, traditional Mormon family, I had visions of the “normal” Christmases. You know… the Norman Rockwell kind.
For the record, when the Andersons get together for their full family Christmases nowadays, we affectionately refer to them as “warm fuzzy fist fights.”
The first family fist fight was two grown brothers fighting over video game controllers. One brother was punched in the eye so hard that the doctor dad thought he was going to have to haul him down to their clinic to ex-ray it. And I remember there was some sort of choking incident at a pick-up basketball game at the church a few days later.
Warm fuzzy family fight number two happened a few years later, between two different brothers involving hockey sticks and a whole lot of rumored swear words.
Apparently the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Last year, when the family was all together for Chrismas and a grandmother’s funeral, the brothers were on their best behavior. Their children, however, were not.
One cousin would not stop punching and wacking another cousin, so the second cousin punched the first one in the back and knocked him down flat. One teen cousin put a four year old in a choke hold for pulling hair, reminiscent of the choking from a few years back.
Isn’t there some saying that the family that chokes together, stays together?
Aaaahhh, God bless the holidays.