Chaos Attraction

In Which I Win A Round

2004-12-24, 5:21 p.m.

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It's Christmas Day, and I've got some time alone. It's 10:50 as I write this, and I've been told that Dad is going to go back to sleep, Mom is going to be in the kitchen, and I'm not allowed out past the bathroom until Dad is up and ready. In short, I've got oh, at least 2 hours to kill, right? Time to drag out the laptop, even if I probably won't be able to get online today (gotta keep the line open for relative phone calls).

For those wondering just how late my parents were Thursday night, the answer is, "how's 10:30 p.m. working for ya?" Mom thought she'd get off early from work, didn't, finally called me around 6:30 to say that they were going to eat before coming, they didn't leave until 8:50... oy vey.

So we dragged our asses home late into the night, Mom nearly fell asleep at the wheel because she'd gotten three hours the night before (I'd gotten 4, so I wasn't any help keeping her up and awake either), it was kinda scary.

Relative Onslaught #1, brunch at Ron and Laurie's, was Christmas Eve morning. Considering that we hadn't gotten home until fricking 1 a.m. the night before, even a 10:30 call was a bit too early for all of us. It didn't help either that Mom managed to lose her wedding ring around 10:30 (it turned up on the dashboard of the van when she finally gave up searching to get into the car. Oh, the irony.). So already, everyone's on edge and I'm all, "Yeah, I just don't think I can manage that inner peace thing today. It's not that I'm not willing to, it's just not going to happen." Hell, any time I started doing deep breathing I got interrupted within oh, a minute and a half.

Much to my surprise, it was not heinous. This was probably because Laurie had an "adults" table in the front room and the "kids table" out in the kitchen. Les immediately said he'd go to the kids table, and so did I, so we had a lovely meal with Justin, Jessica, Connor, and Amanda. The little ones were mostly quiet/ran off fast, Amanda asked about my love life and "what I want to be when I grow up" and do I want to get married and have kids (boy, was she shocked to that answer- "I want to have five." FIVE?! Owwww!) but I take it from her because she's 14 and I can completely understand her asking when I see her once or twice a year and I'm the closest one to her age around. She sympathized with me being annoyed at the PITAS nagging me on this point- "They live close by to me, remember? ARGH." Yeah, that's all you need at 14- "get a boyfriend, get a boyfriend!" Though Amanda is quite gorgeous, even with braces. I don't think that girl's had a zit or an awkward stage yet as long as I've known her. Maybe she doesn't care too much to have one either.

After the kids cleared out, Les and I spent some quality time bitching about the family. I ended up explaining the whole "yeah, I sure as hell wouldn't bring a guy around you people" thing and he was all, "Yeah, but Ron and I would be the worst on him," and I was all, "No, not you, RON would." He said, "Yeah, I'd be bugging him for fun and Ron would be malicious about it." True. He also went off on the joys of having your very own biological children- well, I quietly disagree on that one, but kept it to myself.

Anyway, we were mostly out of the line of fire hiding in the back. After that came present distribution, and I have to admit the kids were quite cute during it. Jessica's eyes are so big she's practically a manga character- sooooo cute. She and Amanda look very alike, which is kind of odd considering they aren't blood related. (Then again, Amanda and I look like we could be blood-related as well. The whole hazel eyes/same natural hair color/fashion sense thing.) Connor was, to quote Mom, "a little shit", but I can't say I'm surprised at that either. Much as Amanda is Laurie's clone, Connor is Ron's *shudder*. This is the kid who's all, "I already have one of these! I don't want it!" during the present distribution. Man, he is so going to get his ass kicked as a teenager by Ron if he keeps that shit up. He also wasn't too thrilled with constantly posing for pictures, but that's understandable. It was all pretty funny watching them unwrap stuff, though. I got a vat of lavender bath stuff from R&L- hey, that works, I'm about out anyway. Tammy was jealous because lavender is her favorite scent (she's another one who's crazy for purple). I drooled over her shiny purple ring and she told me I'd have to wear my lavender outfit I know I'm getting for Christmas over to her house the next day. (And also drink the cider rum. Mmmm, cider rum.)

After Tammy, Les and co. had to leave to do last-minute Christmas shopping, that's when the "Got a boyfriend yet?" stuff kept coming up. Mainly he thinks I should be dating the 21-year-old college boys, and I was all, "Yeah, I didn't date them when I was their age, and I'm sure not now that I'm 26." Whee. I kept my cool, except for when Uncle Bruce said that the good guys such as himself and Ron were already married, plus they're related to me. I was all, "Wait a minute, y'all think I should do incest? EWWWW! And the most disturbing thing is, you mentioned the incest SECOND in that." Uncle Bruce was all, "Honey, take back her gift!" Then he was all, "Hey, you wouldn't even BE here if we hadn't moved to California and your dad hadn't moved in with us."

End of Round One.

We soon took off, with Ron yelling at us to get out of our house (he thinks that's funny), and me going, "Man, he's just Little Mr. Mary Sunshine, isn't he?" and Laurie saying, "You feel my pain, don't you?"

The middle of the day was mostly spent at Costco, while Mom picked up various stuff. She insisted on buying Justin and Jessica TONS more presents.
For the record, here's what all four kids were supposed to get:
Amanda: 2 gifts (purse and necklace w/pendant)
Connor: 1 (jacket)- you can tell who's NOT the favorite kid out of the four, can't you?
Justin: 3 (book, toy, jacket)
Jessica: 2 (sweatshirt, book)
Admittedly, Amanda and Connor weren't going to be around when J&J got their gifts to know who's being favoritized here, but I was all, "MOM! THEY ALREADY HAVE A TON OF GIFTS FROM US! THEY DON'T NEED MORE BOOKS!!!" She wouldn't listen. She claimed some could go for Jessica's birthday (okay, I'll buy that, since she's an Aquarius), but in the end, she was all, "They're my godchildren and I'll buy them what I want to and claim they're from you!" Um. Okay. Whatever.

After the shopping, we went to the five o' clock candlelight church service at Mom's. As usual, I sat through it being reminded of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. I don't know WHY I always think of that one every year, but I do. This year when one of the pastors was reading the bit about "wonderful counselor, prince of peace" etc., etc., I could practically hear Imogene Herdman's voice in my head sniffing and saying, "I would have named him Bill." That name choice was especially amusing to me this year.
I do like what they do at Christmas- mainly they read passages out loud, alternating with singing, and in the middle they have story time, and at the end is the candles. This year they had someone sing "Breath of Heaven"- certainly not something from the Methodist hymnal, but I have to admit (Amy Grant-done or not) it's my actual favorite serious Christmas song. It just means more than the "oh, hallelujah, Christ is here!" stuff that gets repeated all the time, you know?
As for story time, I do like that the guy pastor always picks out a Christmas story that's really quirky and one you've never even heard of before. This year's was "Why Evergreen Trees Aren't Perfect" (or some such title), about a bunch of trees competing to be the most perfect to be selected to go into the Queen's castle. (Why they want to be well, KILLED, is beyond my logic.) Anyway, one of the top contenders is the only tree around who will let animals hide within his shelter and eat him when they're hungry, so he looks like crap when the Queen comes around to pick. But he gets picked because she realizes he was a good tree, and he gets chopped down and decorated, and now the rest of the trees don't mind if they get nibbled on or bent out of shape because they sheltered birds and hid bunny rabbits from foxes and the like, because it makes you better in the sight of God to help others than to always be helping yourself.

That was a bit of a kick in the gut to me this year.

Maybe I am being too selfish with all of this, "I just want to manage to take care of ME, not be burdened down with taking care of everyone else around me and becoming a miserable stressball just like Mom" thing. Maybe it'd be better if I wasn't more interested in fulfilling what I want to do.

Round 2 commenced at D&B's house, with some absolutely scrumptious Chinese food from a joint called Stix, which I highly recommend. (And as I write this, it's nearing 11:30 and I'm wondering how much objection Mom would have to me yelling for her to bring me the leftover Chinese food in my bedroom, since I can't go out in the living room/kitchen area to eat it as usual. Probably there'd be a lot. Dammit.) My fortune in the cookie was, "If you continually give, you will continually have." Another kick in the gut after that church service.

This year, I was surprised. NOT by any rude, tactless comments about my singledom (though later on there was an amusing commentary on how anyone who looks like they gained a pound gets asked if they're pregnant in People magazine. Which I did NOT initiate, thank you), but...Uncle Bruce actually got into WHY the hell they nag me so bloody much every year.

It was along the lines of, "Well, when we got married, we were 20 and 21, and we didn't have a pot to piss in, and your aunt couldn't afford to go run home to Mommy when we had a fight...", and it meanders into how he thinks that couples who don't get married at a young age don't do as well if they get married later, because they've learned how to be independent too well and they can't mesh into a mutual life as well. And...(drumroll please), that's why he thinks Ron and Laurie don't do well. That he was used to doing his own thing, she'd already been a single mom, and getting married in their 30's was just too late for them to mesh well. (Personally, I think it's not so much that they married late as that Ron is just a jerk with issues regarding women and Laurie deserves better, but I kept my mouth shut on THAT one. What I should have said and didn't think of until later was, "Hey, look at Janelle and her husband. They married even later and they're blissfully happy. Nyah.")
At this point, I said, very reasonably, that had I had my way about it (which I did not), I would have found The One in high school, and it didn't work out. Ditto college. Hell, I'd tried my damndest to find someone at an early age, and it just didn't happen. The guys weren't mature enough, they were all very nice but had a fatal flaw, and you know what? You can't make yourself get married at an early age if the circumstances don't work out! And if it takes until I'm 40 and am extremely independent, than it does! I can't help that and I can't make things work out faster! And frankly, too independent or not, I want someone who can take care of themselves alone if they have to, and that was a problem with the last relationship.
Reader, that shut them up. They certainly couldn't disagree with that.
Score one for Jen.
I'm very proud.

The rest of the evening went well. Dad didn't have any er, personal disasters occur so I wasn't stuck making conversation alone for a half hour while they were in the bathroom. For presents, Auntie Dolores knitted us all scarves, which I was very pleased with. (I'd been hoping she'd make some for Christmas and told her as such.) Even better, mine is the pink funky yarn I'd seen her working with back before I got my wisdom teeth out, and she remembered that. Good for her.

And after that, we all went to see Deacon Dave's house, and even got Dad in to see it this year. And after that we cruised for lights some more. And then after that, we gave up on opening presents on the Eve and went to bed early, because we were still all zonked from the other night.

And here we are, back to Christmas Day, where I still haven't eaten or seen any presents yet. Hmmm....

More later.

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