What a lovely Christmas, what with the delightful snow, the enchanting light of a winter sunset over the green mountains, and the little boys running around trying to collect Santa's thumbprint. Let me remind those of you unaware that my whole family shares a hill in South Central Vermont, and during the holidays we inhabit the four houses on that hill, all about a minute's walk from one another. Sort of like polygamists, only not really.
In recounting the merriment let us not forget my sister and cousin, both recently engaged, and the two gentlemen with whom their lives will forever be welded, the four of them flitting about examining their rings under lamplight and being vomitously happy. Much, much ado. When the attention was turned to me, I piped up about kayaking. I don't swim so much anymore, I say. That's kind of a big deal.
In light of all matrimony talk enveloping the hill, I started to suspect that my extended family- progressive as they may be (Dukakis, Kerry, fighting over the Newsweek, NPR, The New Yorker in stacks in the bathroom, Subarus, Obama fundraisers)- wonders why I myself never bring a nice young man up to The Farm at Christmastime.
This little suspicion of mine, at first just a faint whisper in the back of my mind, gained some real volume when, on Christmas morning, I unwrapped a book called "Mars and Venus on a Date: Will I Ever Find My Soul Mate?" As evening fell I lay on the couch and leafed through its many chapters: When the Clock Keeps Ticking and He's Not Wearing a Watch, Making it Through the Five Stages, Men are Like Blowtorches, Women are like Ovens (Ovens?). My sister and her fiance lay on the floor discussing the capital F's on their wedding invites: too curly? The wholloping discrepancy between us sat in the rocking chair like the a third party.
In my defense, I have brought one boy back to the hill. I was 18 and he was 24 and I dug him. Truly. And while he did not harbor a secret second girlfriend the entire two years we were together and never once asked me if I thought STDs were spread by gym towels, (these two facts putting him ahead of my other boyfriends by default) he did like to play with the boundaries of alcoholism. That is all well and good (well, it's not, but he was a writer, so big surprise;) the habit of hitting the bottle and 'recreating' with depression meds could have slumbered through the holiday without reason to rear its ugly head, were it not for Uncle David. It was he who decided on Thanksgiving day that everyone in the family (30+ guests if you counted the toddlers and yes, they did get included) should say a toast. Bummer. Even bigger bummer that he had to choose my boyfriend to start us out. Being that it was past 10 o'clock in the morning, the boy was drunk. Not Crunk by North Carolina standards, but drunk enough that when he wobbled up from his chair and began to speak, my heart was clutched with fear. What the hell is this man going to say right now in front of all my earthly relations. By the end of his long and wavering toast, all eyes had swiveled slowly from him to me, and it was all I could do from shouting 'It's My Dad's fault!! He offered him wine as a breakfast drink!!'
Good times. But really, I don't mind a good moment of humor at the cost of someone else's addiction. Especially if it's one I can joyously recount in later years, long after we've broken up and he's started a family and apparently has published a book although I can't find it anywhere. So the Toast Incident is not the reason I've since refrained from choosing to bring a companion with me for xmas time. It's just that Holidays on the Farm can get a little....smothering. Everything starts out nicely (the sledding, the food, the fires,) but then it starts to pick up speed (the singing! the rehashing of the Democratic National Convention! The food! The festivities! the yearly debate over whether or not the description of Hot Chocolate in The Polar Express sounds too rich!) and then everything is passing you at a blinding light (The rereading of A Child's Christmas in Wales! The little boys demanding that you set up Mousetrap! The 6 year olds fighting over Mousetrap! The marble from Mousetrap inexplicably swallowed and the ensuing meltdown! The cookies! The one-upping of human subject research horror stories! day after day after day, night after night after night!) and then one day towards the middle of the vacation you wake up and you think you're having an anaphalctic reaction. But you're not. You just reached your person limits of Christmas on The Farm.
Because I've grown up with this I've developed somewhat of an immunity. In fact some might argue that I've become part of the problem. So fast and true do I hold onto family traditions that some may feel I've taken it slightly over the edge. The word "Christmas" and the word "Nazi" have been thrown around in a pair. But these people are crazy. They do not know what they are talking about. So what if I think four hour all-family board game time should be mandatory each evening. Traditions are worth their weight in gold.
You know what? I started this post with the original intention of recording some of the unusual gems of family interaction that we shared this Christmas, as explanation for why I don't bring boys to the farm. But I got sidetracked. You may notice that the title of this post has zilch to do with its actual content, but this one has gone on long enough and I know that most people just scroll down to look at the pictures, hoping to catch a glimpse of Hometeam. I understand this, and harbor no ill feelings. She is a fine canine. I'll continue with a second post in just a split second. For now, here are some photos.