Xmas Dinner with the Crazies

For those who follow me on FB, or I speak to on a regular basis, you will have noticed my blind panic at the prospect of having people over for a fancy meal on Christmas. I thought I’d post an update, since Christmas is now properly over.

Overall it went well, everyone seemed to have a good time. The food was utterly demolished by the end of it, as was the rather excessive (according to my mother) wine supply.

Family gatherings are a time for catching up and of course gossip. Especially this gathering had a lot of that, mainly because it was the first time my mother and my nephew met. My (half)sister and my mother haven’t been in touch for over 20 years. Therefore it was also the first time my mother and my (half) brother-in-law met but there wasn’t much conversation there. Partially because they didn’t understand a word the other said.

In any case, I’ve always been aware that my family, whether from mom’s or dad’s side, are a bit challenging and nutty. I know everyone says this about their own family, but I’m serious.

To add to the bizarre nature of the situation, we had the opportunity to drag up much told crazy stories and proudly demonstrate our combined insanity in front of two outsiders, friends my sister dragged along.

After putting my nephew in charge of wines – after all, he’s the snob who wouldn’t let me buy them in Aldi and insisted on picking out quality bottles himself with his 40% wine shop staff discount – I only had to take care of the food. The Christmas Goose was a great success and people ate with abandon.

It was a mixed bunch, a mash-up of cultural backgrounds and nationalities (and varying English skills). Funnily the only Englishman at the table was my nephew, who got plenty of shit for that from the rest of us. But that’s OK, he can take it. This was exactly the point where I was thankful for not inviting the next door neighbour as well, as this would have become very awkward very quickly.

Out of the 8 people that somehow managed to squeeze themselves around our 6 person dinner table (two on each head), it was mainly my mom, sis and nephew doing most of the talking.

Upon having cleared some empty dishes I come back to the following exchange.

“Oh but your dad left that gun in my wardrobe!” says mom.

“Really?!” sis asks, before waving to her friend in a sort of *nudge nudge, wink wink* this story will be awesome kind of fashion. “Please do tell me what happened!”

I sit down at the table, while my nephew just looks at me with a raised eyebrow. The story of the gun is well known in our family; an AK-47 which my dad carried for protection(?!) while doing video coverage for a news agency during the 1967 Six Day War in Israel. One which he then proceeded to hide in his camera bag and smuggled home to Europe, upon being air lifted out by the British Forces. Fuck knows why. I’m all for souvenirs, but an AK-47?

“Oh yes, he kept it all that time, from 1967 right until he died in ’89. At my house. I got rid of it then.”

By now, the Alpha males at the table (everyone but my nephew, he’s more of a Beta male) are realising that family stories in our house are a lot more interesting than they were expecting.

Mind, we are not a family of gangsters.

Keeping a gun in your girlfriend’s wardrobe is not considered normal behaviour. In fact, my mother is the most rule conscious person I know, to this day I find it shocking that my dad managed to smooth-talk her into having a weapon in her house, in a country with extremely strict gun laws. (Just to explain this to any Americans reading this: by “strict gun laws” I don’t mean paperwork’s a pain in the ass when getting a permit. I mean you CANNOT get a permit, because guns are banned. Even something seemingly silly like pepper spray is completely illegal.)

“Oh my, what did you do?” 

“Well, of course I phoned the police.” 

I hear a sigh of disbelief and horror from the Alpha male corner, this was not what they were hoping for.

“That must have been an awkward conversation.”

“Not really, I phoned them and said: ‘My partner has just passed away, and in his things in the wardrobe I found a Kalashnikov. What shall I do with it?’ The policeman didn’t believe me. He laughed at me as if I was a nutcase and told me: ‘Why don’t you bring it into the main police station and we’ll deal with the matter there.'”

“No, you didn’t give it to them, did you!” One of the Alphas exclaims.

Mom continues.

“Actually yes, I did exactly what the man had told me on the phone. I packed up the gun, and the ammo, and went to the police station and handed it to them.”

“You should’ve seen their faces!”

Maybe you had to be there. But this story is always a winner, even if I have already heard it many times. Funnily on this occasion the story didn’t end there. The “let’s show off how crazy we all are in front of people we’ve never met before” act continued on to:

“Of course after that your grandmother handed me some knives.”

Me: What?!

“Yeah, she said, ‘Here, hand them to the police, they’re illegal weapons.’ So I did.”

While I’m sitting at the table pondering why my 90 year old grandmother had big ass knives in her possession, sis helps out.

“Oh, you are aware grandma spent some time in jail?”

Me: WTF???

And that started a whole new story.

As I said. Insane. Every single one of them.

Holiday Spirit

I’m glad, no relieved. One more thing on the huge to-do list can be ticked off. But, because nothing ever is, it wasn’t easy to get to this point.

Christmas trees.

I love them, and I’m a bit of a snob really because I insist on having a real one or none at all. If you think that’s bad, you ask my mother. She doesn’t even allow fake lights near her tree. Or baubles & tinsel. Apparently all three are “vulgar” and should be replaced by felt & straw decorations, real candles and lametta.

Anyway. On Saturday, after a long, tiring day of playing mechanic’s little helper, I went looking for a tree. One that would be big enough to fill the empty corner of the living room. In addition to being a Christmas tree snob, unfortunately I’m also part Dutch.

My little Christmas tree hunt didn’t get off to a good start. The large garden centre I had planned to go to first closed 2 minutes before I reached there. I honestly didn’t consider that 2 weeks before Christmas, they’d close at 5:30pm on a Saturday.

Nevermind, I had my phone with me for directions. Nearest B&Q, Homebase, whatever. At least they should still be open! So upon finding a Homebase, (and getting lost twice on the way), I was welcomed by the promising sight of lots of little trees in pots at the entrance. I started looking around for one that would be big enough. Until I saw the price tag and nearly had a coronary. £39.99! For one that didn’t even reach all the way up to my tits. Obviously, I left empty handed (see above part-Dutch reference).

By Sunday afternoon, my luck turned. Of course I had already collected some decorations, bought a few new ones, decided on a colour scheme etc. So by the time we got the tree home, I couldn’t wait to start decorating. The theme was going to be simple, classy. Dark blue, gold & white/glass.

This enthusiasm was of course met with manly disinterest and eye rolling.

“I don’t get the point of Christmas trees. You take a perfectly nice tree, kill it, and put gay shit all over it. Don’t expect me to help!”

After I had finished, this attitude had changed ever so slightly.

“Why don’t you put on the purple ones as well?”

Fair enough. I like blue & purple together. Once the lights were on, it really started to look like something too.

Followed by: “Why don’t you put the red ones also?”

I refused.

And then the phone rang, mom calling in for her weekly chat.

And while I was on the phone, sat in front of the tree on the floor, trying to explain to my mother how to do video chat on Google plus (the horror), something odd happened.

The alpha male got up from the sofa, looked into the box of unused baubles and scratched his head for a bit.

Placing the first one took a bit of consideration. The next one and the one after went on much quicker.

By the time I looked up, the tree stood in its full multicoloured splendour; blue, purple, gold, red, pinkish red and the lights were on. There went my classy colour scheme, but oh well at least, it’s cheerful.

(In case you were wondering, no, after 30 minutes on the phone, I still couldn’t get mom to understand Hangouts in Google plus. So we gave up and used Skype instead).

Response upon remarking that OK, it does look nice with all the decorations on:

A shrug and: “Look, it’s a phallic symbol with a whole lot of testes on it. Told you it was gay.”

Well anyway, I figured the best possible finishing touch wouldn’t be tinsel because that would be waaay too much but instead some gold beaded garlands.

I thought it looked pretty nice too, but sadly it was not to be. He vetoed my suggestion immediately.

“Fuck, we’re not those, they look like anal beads. For elves!”

I give up!