Posts Tagged ‘Family


The 12 Ways of Christmas: that morning

[Part 12]

The first rule of Christmas morning was to wait until everyone was awake before digging in. Whoever was up first, usually me, and in later years, the younger ones, would be forced to sit back from the tree, bright with promise and the buzz of electricity, regarding it like a ravenous, wild thing, chained, silent and steady, waiting for the first chance to strike.

And we did look wild, clothes twisted and unformed, hair standing up in all directions like ruffled fur, eyes still pink and swollen and crusted from sleep, smelling faintly of sweat and bad breath. When the priority is a tree laden with brightly wrapped boxes, there is no time for a glance in the mirror before greeting one’s family.

Mom made coffee in the kitchen and had her morning cigarette. Every time she tried to speak for more than a few seconds at a time, she lost herself in a loud and painful-sounding fit of coughs. (My dad was reading something. We tried to keep the TV off until after the Christmas orgy.)

Grandma was in the same spot on the couch where she had slept over the night before, her legs drawn up beneath her in what I called “Indian style” at the time. She was surrounded in blue smoke, tapping ashes from her cigarette into a large ashtray in her lap and making remarks about all the presents under the tree that we didn’t deserve.

She was probably right. It was usually an embarrassment of riches. We were very lucky. Continue reading ‘The 12 Ways of Christmas: that morning’


A Family Weigh

The 1976 film Network may most commonly bring to mind overwhelmed, despairing Howard Beale bellowing “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it any more!” His performance is genius, and his newsroom messiah complex may seem to presage this generation’s personality-driven Fox News and CNBC, but something else stood out to me when I watched the movie for the first time not long ago. A much smaller moment. And it had nothing to with Howard Beale, at least not directly.
Continue reading ‘A Family Weigh’

the untallied hours