Home for the Holidays
Nothing says Christmas more than being on a stationary train just outside of Syracuse in a snow storm. We watch the fat flakes fall, Boy grinning with delirium. Junior snoozes in his car seat below the canopy of my pull down table, keeping his snoring daddy company. After twenty more rounds of cards, ten more hand made Christmas greetings and mum spilling her entire coffee down herself we finally pull into icy Rochester.
Festive mania follows. Husband and I, having pulled the reins tight against over indulging our offspring with presents suddenly do the opposite, though he points out my version of spoiling is Dickensian at best. On the morning of the Big Day Boy rushes downstairs sighing with relief when he discovers Santa has been kind. He went all out this year it would seem, not only procuring the small (travel-able) experiment set as hoped, but also a microscope. Good job grandpa is diabetic because every morning when he pricks his finger to check his blood sugar Boy slaps a droplet more onto his glass slide and watches the platelets take their morning swim.
We head uphill to my sister in law’s whereupon I take over her kitchen, slow cook half a pig, roast a mountain of carbohydrates and sip a sneaky gin and tonic before dinner – wearing her sequined apron no less so I can pretend to be one of those housewives from 1962 that may or may not have existed. After 7 hours the feast is ready and we huddle around the table like wildebeest in the savannah only with paper crowns instead of horns.
This is because we found British crackers at the local mega store. When the cashier had asked me for I.D., we looked at her befuddled, “There’s TNT in the snapper,” she informed us without a whiff of irony. About as much to blow up the tool shed of a pigmy ant colony I want to reply, but husband gives me a gentle elbow in the ribs. As he takes out his driver’s license I have to do everything in my power not to stand up on my soap box and give a lecture about the ex convict, who earlier in the day, but a few miles away, had been able to get his hands on lethal weapons and murder two local volunteer firemen as they came to save people from his sister’s house that he had set light to.
Around the Christmas wrapping table the family had chewed over fat debates on gun control and the meaning of freedom and defense, no different from any table country wide I suspect. When no simple answers were available, we could escape into furious bow tying, deeply grateful for being able to share the holidays with some of the most precious people in our lives. Sending prayers to those families far less fortunate and touched by recent tragedies.
Now, husband stomps around the house bemoaning the fact I have fed him out of fitting into his father’s snowsuit. My Italian aunts – alive and deceased – would be deeply proud. The boys head off sledding into the afternoon snowstorm, Junior snores alongside the cat and dog and Mama types a tiny slice of posterity – one more absurd human construct. Something the deer head on the wall above me, looking out into the winter wonderland with wistful eyes, knows only too well. Best enjoy “posterity” while it lasts I suppose, because it’s far more fleeting than we’d like to believe.