Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Without Them

Since I didn't update yesterday I thought that it would only be fitting for me to delve into the embarrassment of Christmas past. The first account of embarrassment I have to offer today is not something that happened to me, but of something that happened to my brother of which I bore witness. It was a cold and picturesque Christmas eve night many years ago. My mother, having just relieved herself of her annual last minute shopping, brought my older brother Ross and I to the Cotuit Federated Church for an evening mass. We arrived late, as usual, and filed reluctantly in one of the back pews. Church for our family was, and still is, somewhat of a rare occurrence. I sat patiently next to my mother while the congregation recited hymns upon hymns that I didn't recognize. Ross, being the angsty young rebel that he was, decided to take a walk. Church time flowed like school time and I grew weary. First came the smell. It was one I had recognized from the passenger seat of my mother's old Plymouth Reliant. In the car, the smell presents itself and then gradually fades off into the ether. The musk of a skunk. Heads turned and I heard the soft voice of my humbled brother. "Mom.", he whispered. My brother inched towards us from the other end of the pew. People turned their heads and moved to the front of the church. I will never forget how my mother tried to quietly shoo him out the door. The air in the church that had previously been filled with hope and Christmas joy had been replaced by that of roadkill. A man ran to the back room to vomit and for the first time I felt truly embarrassed for my family. We left early. Ross had walked through the park and kicked a rock in the direction of a dumpster. That must have got the skunk's attention. It sprayed him. He kicked it and ran back to church. That Christmas eve while everyone else's moms were tucking them into bed and reading them Twas The Night Before Christmas, our mom was driving all around town looking for a convenience store that sold tomato juice.

One of the furthest back memories I can conjure up also happens to one that carries a weight of embarrassment. I must have been three or four years old and, if memory serves, I was at my mother's friend's house for a holiday gathering. At this point in my life I had been all done with diapers and could freely do my business in any restroom I saw fit. Heading the call of the wild, I took refuge in the upstairs restroom. The bathroom was polished, white, and immaculate. The only problem, I came to find, was that there was no toilet paper. What is a child to do? I glance around the room. Dish soap. Shampoo. Sink. Porcelain tub. My eyes finally rest on the guest towels. They can serve the same function as toilet paper, I thought. I was a little Macgyver. The guest towels were hung back up, white side out, and no one would be the wiser. To this day I don't recall exactly whose house it was.

Puff has been playing with and unplugging the lights on the Christmas tree for the last few days. Today she actually climbed inside the tree. I had to wait until she held still. The tree was shaking and I felt like I was in the movie Gremlins.

My father noticed that in the bags of saltines every thirteenth cracker is a dark shade of brown. He finds this fascinating.

I apologize to my family for wrapping them into today's entry, but what is Christmas without them?

Speak easy,


Jim said...

Puff-a is a shitty animal.

Robin said...

Oh Neil -- I love your retelling of the worst Christmas Eve on record! However, it makes a great story. As for the guest towels, I don't remember where we were and no one has ever called to ask me about them! We can only imagine ...
Thanks for the memories:)

Selina said...

Haha- holiday christmas gatherings are always classic, especially with embarassing stories!

Just out of curiousity- has your family returned to church since that disasterous road kill episode?