Minus the times my brothers were active in the military my family has always been together for Christmas.  It’s my favorite time of year.  These are my people, my tribe, my kin.  Who else is going to finish my mom’s tequila and facetime every single person in my phone?  It’s truly the best…for about 4 hours.  Then it’s survival of the fittest and pretty much all downhill from there and I mean that in the most loving way possible.  It’s very who ate the cheese pizza, someone spilled the milk, do a headcount, $122.50, easy on the Pepsi, toilet paper and water Home Alone chaos.  It’s several worlds, routines, schedules and habits all colliding at once.  It’s a bit of an adjustment where we all basically take turns having meltdowns.  Hallelujah, holy shit, where’s the Tylenol?!

It must be absolutely jarring to live by yourself and then have a bunch of people invade your home.  I don’t care how much you love them, it’s a lot.  That’s what happens to my mom every single year.  She is the most organized, everything has a place, the penguin faces North person I know so I imagine part of her mind is imploding the entire time we are here.  This is not to say she doesn’t love us, she does -very very much.  In the way that you love having company over but can’t understand how they got so much water all over the counter from simply washing their hands.  Like, what are you doing in there?  Filming Waterworld 2?  In the way you love your husband who says there’s nowhere to park when he’s already passed four empty spots and when you tell him, he acts like he obviously saw them and did the math and there’s no way the car would have fit when you’re certain you would have fit perfectly fine.   In the way you love your friend who always invites other people without warning you first.  The worst.

This year, my older brother and his wife bought their son the Death Star LEGO set…and then they left.  Well played, you two.  I tried to tell my nephew that it was more of a father/son bonding project but the next thing I heard was LEGOs being poured on the dining room table, so that worked out well.  Um, if your marriage is on the rocks, I don’t recommend this activity.  There are 9+ bags of LEGOs, the instruction manual is spiraled and the only way you’re getting this thing built is if you’re good at the game where you have to tell the differences between two pictures that look exactly alike.  Would it be too much to ask for an arrow?!  And good luck trying to figure out whether you’re looking for a dark gray, light gray or black piece.  Your guess is as good as mine.  My sister said it best – time moves very differently when building LEGOs.  It’s tedious, time consuming and I’ve thought about drop kicking the damn thing into the backyard several dozen times.  Karma will find you big brother.  You just wait till I find a guy I like who likes me back, I say yes, marry him, move out of my studio apartment, have a kid that’s a boy and buy him the the History of Broadway LEGO set and dodge town.  So yeah, in like 10 years, revenge is mine-you just wait!  Also if a Phantom of the Opera LEGO set doesn’t exist, it should.  I’ll be waiting for my check in the mail.

When I come home, I deal with 100% more kids than I do in L.A.  I love kids, they just aren’t a part of my personal routine.  I usually stay at my best friend from high school’s house once or twice when I’m in town.  I had to use the bathroom in the middle of the night and when I was creeping back into my room, her son scared the crap out of me and whispered, “Where are you going?”  I told him I was going back to bed.  He asked if he could join me.  I panicked.  Was this ok?  Was he young enough for this to be considered appropriate?  Would this be the moment in his life that would scar him forever and subconsciously ruin him?  I truly had no clue and blurted out sure!  So he trails me into my room and I help him into bed.  I built a very sturdy pillow wall between us because it seemed like the right thing to do.  I closed my eyes and two seconds later I hear the pillows being ruffled.  “Aunt Jenny?”  My face smashed in the pillow, What’s up, Ryan?  “What are you doing?”  Sleeping.  “How many minutes?”  I looked at him and he’s got his face on top of the pillow fort all sorts of wide awake.  For a lot of minutes.  Try it with me.  Ready go!  I threw my face back into my pillow.  When I finally woke up, he was long gone.  I went downstairs where I was informed by a five year old that I sleep too much.  There are worse vices I suppose.

Everyday life when I’m home for the holidays is certainly a 180 from the usual.  And while our every-days might be very different, we join forces each year and it’s a beautiful collision.  It’s some kind of magic because it’s this twisted helix of fire and ice.  Just add dragons.  As much as we all drive each other crazy, I’d be balled up in a dark corner sobbing if we weren’t together.    The people who know you best are also the ones that occasionally turn you into a walking, talking looney toon and they know exactly how to get you there. The fact is, at the end of the day we love each other to stupid little pieces.  There’s no one else I’d rather be with.  Christmas isn’t necessarily a date on the calendar but an essence in the air.  It’s a feeling and a spirit that invokes happiness and I only wish it lasted all year.  Cheers to all the crazy families, friends and loved ones out there who keep us sane.  Irony at its finest!  Bring it on 2018!!


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