CHRISTMAS: A SUMMARY REPORT

8:00 am 

I cannot believe I am showering, getting dressed, and putting on makeup at this ungodly hour on a Saturday. I would have had endless time to lollygag but my brother decided to move Christmas dinner to Saturday so one of his fiancé’s daughters and her family could attend. At the last minute, they decided to go to Disneyland. Best of intentions, brother–you tried. My mother’s friend recently gave me a Christmas sweater and I decide to take it on a trial run in spite of being averse to the whole idea. I always snicker when I see a rack labeled “Ugly Christmas Sweaters.” Aren’t they all?

9:00 am

Ran to Goodwill’s 50% off sale. Had exactly one hour. Very tight timeline today. Older grandma compliments me on Christmas sweater. That nailed it. Christmas sweater will be placed in giveaway bin and I’ll change into my ubiquitous black sweater. I was so rushed, I accidentally I left an incredible retro glass lamp at the counter

10:00 am

Run home to make hors d’oeuvre. Madly throw mini-hotdogs wrapped in crescent rolls around the kitchen. My dog is in heaven because food is raining on the floor. I can’t remember. What makes them brown on top? Butter or egg whites? I go with egg whites and bake. Rapidly I place the Barbie-sized hotdogs on a tray and put mustard in a small bowel in the middle. It crosses my mind that I have not used this mustard in maybe a year. Can’t find an expiration date. Oh, well. Dump into bowl and toss the bottle into garbage. I don’t think I can kill anyone with mustard.

11-11:30 am

Pack car with presents for entire family along with food. I had also bought some Ugly Christmas Sweater gingerbread cookies from Starbucks. No, the irony wasn’t lost. I’m now en route to pick up my Moms in Fountain Hills. Note: Fountain Hills is approximately 25 miles north of me. I have Moms open up their presents while I’m there which I’m praying they’ll like. They have everything–very challenging to shop for. They appear to be pleased. Hurry, hurry, Moms. Time to drive to bother’s house. This timeline, oy.

11:30-noon

Drive to brother’s house. Note: Brother’s house is approximately 40 miles south in the opposite direction of the Moms’ house. Previously I had called Goodwill (so fortuitously on the route) about my forgotten retro glass lamp. To put it mildly, The Moms were not happy to wait in the car while I picked up the lamp from Goodwill. It took all of two minutes. I held it up like a trophy at the car and said, Pretty cool for only $2, huh? Deafening silence except for my mother muttering she had never been in a Goodwill in her life. I live to embarrass her. We arrive at my brother’s house where I tell Moms to just go in, I’ll unload the car (mistakenly) thinking one of my brothers will come out and help me. Nope. Two trips. But it’s okay. Paybacks are hell.

noon – 2:00 pm

A mighty battle begins to ensue between my social anxiety, attempting to say hello to my brother’s fiancé’s family whose names I cannot remember, and just being out of my safe place,  “Great to see you again” will have to work. I get The Moms settled on the couch with food and beverage. Mom #1 complains that my brother bought too small of a water bottle. Continues this rant until she leaves. We bring her three at a time.

I REALLY do not want to be here. I have wrenched my back and pinched a nerve from stupidly lifting too many heavy boxes the weekend before. Everyone is searching for ibuprofen for me to no avail. I take Tylenol which does nothing. The youngest of my brother’s fiancé, Hayley, is someone I’m crazy about. She recently graduated from the UofA and is smart, sassy, and makes me laugh so hard because she is completely unfiltered. She kindly rubs my back for a long time and in return I tell her a secret.

Her sister is married to a dweeby prosecutor for Maricopa County. Just because. Just because. I ask him what he thinks about the ethics of Jodi Arias’s prosecutor and defense attorneys publishing books about her case. I rile him further telling him I am anti-death penalty and that I believe that the only reason that the county attorney went after her twice for the death penalty was for publicity. And they lost twice–buah.

As I’m repeating this to Hayley, she tells me, “You do realize they’re never going to let you hold their baby?”

2:00 pm

We eat a dinner beautifully prepared by my brother who my mother still feels guilty about not sending to a culinary arts school. She should. I go outside with one of my nephew’s new girlfriend to vape. My nephew is an idiot and I’m dying to get the 411 on why such a smart, beautiful woman is with him. Driving home, my mother says he’ll find some way to fuck it up. Jeeesh, my mother and the F-bomb. So we go outside and I give her my standard interview:

How did you meet?
Has your mother met him?
What do you do for work?

Just the basics, although I was dying to say, Oh you could do so much better than this. But I didn’t. I was perfectly behaved all day. Without Xanax, mind you, as I was the designated driver.

4:00 pm

We did the traditional gift exchange. It did seem a bit awkward that each family only exchanged gifts between themselves, but perhaps we’re just not there yet.  I could see the baby’s father keeping him well out of reach from me. Don’t worry, Prosecutor Daddy, I won’t whisper Jodi Arias stories to him. It was strictly said to make YOU uncomfortable because you’re such a bureaucratic wonk. Thanks to my brothers, I now have some cash and scored a few Target gift cards. They know me well.

5:00 pm

I cannot possibly stay one more minute without having a silent panic attack or back spasms. Scrumptious homemade desserts have been placed out and the temptation to just rub my face in them is too overwhelming. Did I tell you I’m dieting? Or as I call it–a new eating regime. The Ghandi Diet. I had gotten away with so far with only eating a few spoonfuls of mashed potatoes and a few brussel spouts without anyone whispering anorexia. No, no, no fudge for me. I herd The Moms out to my car. Mom #1 is cold and Mom #2, who has Alzheimer’s, asks every five minutes if she has all of her “things.”

5:30 pm

It’s dark now and the first part of the route from my brother’s house to The Moms is well-lit freeways. Then comes the Pima Indian Reservation with no lights which we drive on for 30 minutes until we reach Fountain Hills. To me, it’s a dark, deathly drive. I’m driving so slowly because of night blindness, everyone passes me.

6:00 pm

My mother does not like the roads I’m taking to her house. Nothing new. I just said, No worries, I’ll get you there. But I’m thinking to myself, crikey, I’m over there several times a week, how does she think I get there? My way takes us through a beautiful  display of downtown Christmas displays, redeeming my errant ways. Finally, F I N A L L Y, we are home. Alzheimer’s Mom asks if I have a garage door opener. Again, I’m thinking how on earth do you think I get here, ladies? But I say nothing. For I am now free. At long last.

6:30 pm

The Rez road is still pitch black but I don’t care. At the end of the road, a few blocks away, is my beloved safe place. I drive into the carport, open the door, and hug my doggy so hard. The cat just stares. I run to the pill drawer, find a muscle relaxant, grab the heating pad, and land on the couch with comfy pillows.

7:00 pm

I’m hunkered down on the couch in a pillow fort with the heating pad on high. Who knew a simple appliance could bring such comfort? I’ve ratcheted it up to high for a time, but move it down to the next level in case I fall asleep. Not sure I want to explain to paramedics how I got third degree burns on my back. I settle down to watch the original Sabrina. Humphrey. Audrey. Who ever thought they could replace you?

Christmas completed.
Check.

Photo Credit: Bennett 4 Senate Flickr via Compfight cc

Dori Owen

Dori Owen is a storyteller, writing from small town Arizona, after living a few decades in California as an LA Wild Child, with a brief stop in Reno. She settled into grownup life as a project manager, collecting an MBA and a few husbands along the way. She is a shown artist and her favorite pastime is upcycling old furniture and decor she finds from thrift stores. She lives with the cat who came to visit but stayed. The love of her life is her grown son who lives in Portland, Oregon. Her essays and poems have been published in RAW&UNFILTERED VOL I, StigmaFighters Vol 2, and Love Notes From Humanity. Her blogs have been featured on The Lithium Chronicles, Open Thought Vortex, Sudden Denouement, and The Mighty.

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