Sunday, January 20, 2013

Holidays on Ice. Part II

I left off the last post just as my idiotic uncle was spitting mashed potatoes out of his mouth while he was pretending to be a zit, The Widow was complaining about how late dinner was, Karl was trying to find a hiding place for 24 stale bagels, and I was rolling my eyes in sheer shame.  If that isn't a Norman Rockwell scene of a family Christmas, I don't know what is.

We had already opened gifts, dinner had been served, and the inappropriateness of my uncle was at an all time high, what more could there be left to do?

Ahh yes, celebrate The Widow's birthday.  My grandmother fully expects for it to be completely acknowledged that it's her birthday over Christmas.  You cannot wish her a "Merry Christmas" before wishing a "Happy Birthday" or you will ruin her entire year.  Christmas gifts must be wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper, and birthday gifts must be wrapped in birthday paper.  You CANNOT mess this up.  Ever.  

Oddly enough, I recall the one year that I received a refurbished Game Boy for my birthday/Christmas from The Widow.  The Game Boy was the classic grey model, and this was the time of of colored transparent models and Game Boy Color.  Furthermore, the gift was wrapped in HALF birthday paper and HALF Christmas paper.  To add to that, my birthday isn't even in December, it's in November.  I was told that I could open the birthday half and wait until Christmas to open the Christmas half, or I could open the entire thing and not get a Christmas gift.  Decisions, decisions.  What would I possibly do with a half wrapped (used) Game Boy?  But could I possibly give up Christmas gifts?  

Anyway, Karl and I presented The Widow with her birthday AND Christmas gifts as if we were offering up some sort of sacrifice on the alter.  By this time, my uncle had relocated to the couch to unbutton his pants from eating so much, my dad began to clean up the kitchen, and my mom lit my grandmother's birthday candles with the end of her cigarette.  We half-heartedly sang a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday" and I'm fairly positive my uncle changed the words to something like "you look like a monkey and smell like one too."  By the way, my uncle isn't 14 years old, he's 50.

Everyone scarfed down their slice of chocolate cake and my dad began gathering jackets to shuffle our guests out of the house.  On his way out, my uncle threatened to host Christmas dinner next year at his house with him and his girlfriend- I'm sure there will be plenty of bagels.

Round 1 was over and it was time to move onto Round 2.  It was now time to head over to Grandma Fred's house.  Grandma Fred is probably my favorite person in the world, and I am hers.  She is well into her 80's, but is one hell of a firecracker.  My quick wit and sharp tongue come right from her.  Grandma Fred, even though her health is declining, still gets her 2-inch acrylic nails painted every two weeks, however, Fred's nails aren't neutral or a French manicure.  She will get her nails painted in whatever the hot color of the moment is, and has been to known to have vibrant reds, neon pinks and greens, or apply glitter onto one for a Ke$ha nail.

My dad's two oldest brothers and my aunt were at grandma's house by time we got there.  The four of them were just finishing up dinner, and since we had already eaten, Karl showed me my grandma's new chair.  Grandma Fred is the proud owner of the Cadillacs of motorized reclining chairs.  This is the type of chair that probably comes with letters and numbers in its name.  I imagine it to be called the Deluxe Recliner 3000XL.  This particular chair puts some carnival rides to shame.  It is equipped with a full body massage function, a heater, and the best part; it fully reclines so that your body  is laying flat annnnd it also rises forward high enough-almost straight up-so that you can just walk away without having to exert much physical effort.  Karl and I spent about 27 minutes riding the chair, and even made an informational video, exhibiting all of its features, to send to our sisters.

Once the novelty of the chair wore off, Karl and I went exploring in Grandma Fred's basement.  Tucked away in the very far back corner, I stumbled across a raggedy old box.  This beat up, forgotten about box, held one of the world's greatest treasures.  It was packed full of Grandma Fred's vintage Christmas ornaments.  Jackpot! 

For the last couple of years, I have been scouring every antique store and flea market in my path to find vintage ornaments.  Lately, I have been dragging Jambo along to agonize over building the perfect collection.  Now, here it was, all boxed up, with my name on it.  It had been years since Grandma Fred had put up a Christmas tree, so I just figured the ornaments would have been long gone...but no, they were mine for the taking.  The heavens parted and the North Star was shining right down onto my new found treasure, just as it had lead the Three Wise Men to Jesus, it lead me to a box of ornaments. 

Just as I was basking in the glory of my find, my dad's second oldest brother  (my dad is the baby of four) came barreling down the stairs.  This particular uncle and I have had quite a strained relationship over the past dozen or so years, I don't mean him any ill-will or harm but I am definitely not a fan.  However, just as Grandma Fred and I would be considered Life Long Dudes, Karl and this uncle share the same toward each other.  Curiously, he inquired as to what Karl and I were fawning over.  Enthusiastically, we showed him what we had found and I explained that I would like to have this special thing from Grandma Fred's house and I was planning on taking them upstairs to ask her.

My uncle quickly explained that they would not be leaving the house, and that he would need to look through the box first.  Oh hell no.  Clearly, I had found something that he had not known about, and I had the upper hand.

I re boxed the ornaments and placed them at the bottom of the basement stairs.  If he wanted to play hardball, I figured I would just sneak the ornaments out to my car when he wasn't looking.  Two can play this game.  Karl and I left the basement and went back upstairs to join everyone else.

The night wore on, we took a few more rides on the chair, conversed with Grandma Fred, and explored other forgotten about nooks and crannies of her house.  Finally the evening was drawing to a close and Karl and I still had some goods to smuggle.  Ever so slyly, Karl peeked down the stairs to locate the box.  Karl was shocked to find that the box was gone.  She tried to explain to me that the box was no longer where I had left it, but I did not believe her.  Where could it have gone?  Perhaps she was not looking in the correct place, sometimes Karl isn't the most observant.

Sure enough, Karl was right.  The box was not where I had left it.  My uncle, in an act of douchebaggery, had snuck down stairs and hid the damn box of ornaments.  They were no where to be found.  I was pissed.  I knew damn well he was not interested in the ornaments, he just didn't want me to walk away with something he didn't know about.  I needed to use the ace up my sleeve, in this case it was Karl's bond with my uncle.  Surely, she could exercise her favoritism to get me what I wanted. 

Sadly, Karl was completely ineffective and I had lost the ornaments before they were even mine.  All of this was happening without Grandma Fred knowing, and in an effort to not upset her, I tried my best to keep her in the dark, but this meant war.

Hell hath no fury like a gay man stripped of anything vintage.

In so many words, I expressed my disdain towards my uncle-how completely idiotic and ridiculous this situation was, and maybe even that I hoped to never be in the same room as him again and maybe even that I could not be bothered to spare a drink of water if he were dying of thirst.  Surely someone else's holiday was ruined over a family heirloom, right?  No? Just mine?  Cool.

I said goodbye to Grandma Fred, packed Karl and my dad into the car and sped home.  This wouldn't end tonight, and I needed to conjure up a surefire game plan.  Even if it meant staking out Grandma Fred's house in the middle of the night, in an unmarked car dressed like a cat burglar, I would have those ornaments before I left to go back home to Nashville.

Fast forward 48 hours, and some combination of Karl's weirdly off-putting charm and one of  my Grandma Fred's come to Jesus chats, the ornaments were returned to my possession.  I was the rightful owner, and duh, Grandma Fred's favorite.  Once she found out about this stupid debacle, she'd do the right thing.  I am now the very proud owner of 52 beautifully splendid vintage Christmas ornaments that once belonged to my favorite person in the entire world. 

To anyone looking in, my holiday in the Mitten was completly disfunctional.  The majority of my family annoys the hell out of me and it probably took 4 days for the Bailey's to empty my system.  Although we don't have the normal traditions that most other families probably have; you'll never find an elf on the shelf at my house, and Christmas/The Widow's birthday will always take my family by surprise, we have each other, and frankly you're just jealous you don't have a Grandma Fred too.   


  1. Lawd, your family is bat shit crazy....

  2. I wouldn't want our Christmas any less crazy!