January 03, 2007

Cuckoo For Christmastime

Friday marks the 12th Day of Christmas, the official end of the holiday season. It’s been a pretty good one, except for the fact that all hell broke loose at the Faux’s on Christmas Eve. Okay, let me tell you the story.

As you know, Faux Ma is receiving treatment for uterine cancer. So far she’s doing just fine. She recovered from surgery beautifully in October, and has since been undergoing chemotherapy treatments with three under her belt already.

Despite Faux Ma’s weakened and fatigued condition, she insisted on having us over for Christmas Eve, as we have traditionally celebrated the holiday with them for the past eleven years. She also insisted on preparing a ham dinner by herself. I’m really not one for Faux Ma’s cooking, but the ham was unusually tasty and moist. Maybe God blessed her with delicious meat during these troubled times, but she most obviously served au gratin potatoes from a box and the asparagus had some brown crumbs all over it, which I really couldn’t identify. I was grateful for the juicy ham. Faux Ma also served some holiday cookies for dessert – cookies which had been given to her from various church people and neighbors out of charity/pity. Fortunately Faux Ma also served some mint chocolate chip ice cream with the cookies because most of the baked goods were rather scary-looking, and several of them had a “surprise” in the center of them. The meal wasn’t a total disaster; the ham and mint chocolate chip ice cream being the most edible and least horrifying items on the menu.

I can forgive a dying woman for preparing a mediocre meal. When the dishes were all done (by Faux Pa and Boyfriend as Faux Ma and I watched) we went to open gifts. There were some very nice gifts, indeed. Except there was that one gift I received from Faux Uncle (Faux Ma’s brother, who sends gifts via USPS from California every year) that looked strangely familiar. Oh yes, it was the gift I made myself for him and his wife last year. Regifting tip: don’t give the gift back to the person who gave it to you in the first place. Boyfriend and I got a good laugh out of it, as did Faux Pa. Faux Ma was a bit on the mortified side, as any good, codependent, big-sister-taking-responsibility-for-her-brother’s-thoughtless-actions should be.

Boyfriend and I gave Faux Ma and Faux Pa a DVD player. We figured they’d be in the house a lot this winter, and their VCR is almost forty years old by now. We realized that all those buttons on the DVD player would probably be too much for Faux Pa to deal with, but Faux Ma is capable of reading directions if necessary, so we went ahead with the gift anyway.

After all the presents were opened and well appreciated, we sat around chatting for a while. Boyfriend told his parents that he would come over the day after Christmas to help them get their DVD player set up. Such a good son. He reiterated that they aren’t able to record shows with that particular DVD player. Faux Pa, in his usual, deliberate, very slow manner, implied that even if they could record, they wouldn’t watch what they recorded. He told us about all those war shows that he had taped on the VCR, but never watched.

“I have World War I.”
“I have World War II.”
“I have the Civil War.”

Before he could go and name every war this country had ever participated in I said, “why don’t you ever watch those as you took the trouble to record them.” Oops. That’s when the shit hit the fan.

Faux Pa got a very perplexed look on his face and almost appeared to dry heave as he said he doesn’t want anything to do with wars because this war we’re in now is so terrible. He went on to say how it all began because George Bush, Sr. and Dick Cheney had a plan to buy oil from Iraq for $.25 a gallon and sell it in the U.S. for $10 a gallon, and how they were going to build a railroad across Iraq to transport all of that oil to the U.S. Boyfriend and I figured Faux Pa had grown too tired from the day’s festivities and was beginning to talk nonsense. Then Faux Ma asked hypothetically,

“I wonder why the young people don’t protest as much as they used to, like during the Viet Nam War.”

Boyfriend and I, despite knowing better, answered Faux Ma by saying that young people seem to be more conservative than they were during the Viet Nam War, and plus, there isn’t a draft now as there was back then. Meanwhile, Faux Pa has a pained look on his face like he’s trying desperately to figure out what we’re all talking while still trying to convince us how wrong Bush, Sr. and Cheney were in their plans and that they have enough money, they don’t need to sell oil and start a war. Boyfriend was at the end of his rope. As Faux Pa was fumbling around with his words Boyfriend and I were packing up our gifts. The more we packed, the angrier Faux Pa seemed to get, either with the Bush, Sr./Cheney situation, or with us completely ignoring his half-lucid yammering. Seeing how frustrated her husband was, Faux Ma said,

“Well, if they had wanted to draft you (meaning Boyfriend) into the Viet Nam War, we would have just had you go live with my relatives in Canada.”

I saw Boyfriend snap. He said to his mother, “I would have rather gone to Viet Nam than to Canada to live with your relatives.” Yikes. Now he’s done it.

Faux Ma: “Why would you say that?”

Boyfriend: “Because your relatives told me to my face back in the ‘70s that us damn Yankees keep coming into their country and stealing their jobs.”

Faux Ma: “Which of my relatives said that?”

By now I’m taking Boyfriend by the arm and leading him to the bedroom where our coats are, telling him as quietly as I can to just let it go. He agreed and just replied loudly to his mother, “It doesn’t matter.”

When we came out of the bedroom with our coats on, Faux Ma said, “my relatives don’t swear.”

As always, she completely missed the gist of the conversation, albeit a totally unnecessary conversation. And as always, Faux Pa wasn’t quite sure what had actually happened, even though his VCR tapes started the whole debacle. My relatives don’t swear, she says. Well, they may not swear, but we all witnessed that one of them partakes in the rude practice of regifting, which is much worse than swearing in my book.

So ends the evening with the Fauxs. I hope for Faux Ma’s sake that she lives at least another year so she can give another shot to her “last Christmas.” I hope for Faux Pa’s sake that Faux Ma lives until after he dies, otherwise he’ll turn out to be one of those crazy old men who walks around muttering nonsense with Cream of Wheat caked onto the side of his mouth. I hope for Boyfriend’s sake that he can find the strength to help his parents through their twilight years without completely losing his mind. And I hope for my sake that I don’t go to hell for telling these stories to the entire universe.

God bless us, everyone.

Oh, and P.S., Christmas Day with my family was a delight, of course.

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