5-1: Uncle Larry sets his eyebrows on fire

Some bets you can bank on this Christmas Eve Eve  weekend.


Candle light will flicker small at first, pass from hand to another until a tiny sanctuary glows brilliant.

Chestnuts will be purchased pre-packaged with “hickory-smoked-like artificial scent preservative” and we’ll watch a DVD of a cozy, crackling logs. The toddler will keep insisting he needs to make a fort, wait for Santa inside the gas fireplace.

Sweaters of woven wool will comfort cold shoulders. Sweaters of woven wool and jingle bells and crocheted cats in holiday hats will delight or infuriate the masses.

We will look around the room and think, for just one second and one million seconds too few, that this place filled with these people eating this food and passing these presents while sharing this love is exactly the rightest place in the world.

Some or everyone will find themselves rose-cheeked and spirited under the influence of spirits. Stone fireplaces will be scaled, songs sung into open mouths of empty wine bottles, too-long lingering hugs will forcibly grab family members, slight slur and drool will slip from the edges of mouths remembering, because of this most holy night or this most potent spice punch, all the love we’ve forgotten to say aloud.

Mothers will wake in the dark, creep crusty-eyed to the tree to finish Santa’s work. It is the great fortune of the earth that mothers seldom demand the credit. Dishwashers and diapers, dust bunnies and dirty socks all silently and the same fixed.

Your grandmother will not act amused by the Slang Flashcards you’ve so carefully gifted her. But you will catch her, as night winds down, quietly mumbling something about the dinner rolls being “fresh to def” and the mashed potatoes falling “off the chain” from her little chair in the corner.

We will clasp hands and in doing so form a circle of thanks, an embrace for a family blessing on this most blessed eve. Smaller hands will pull free to pick noses. Larger eyes will fidget and squint open in awkward moments of quiet, hoping the lapse in prayer was for dramatic purposes and the blesser hasn’t dozed off mid-Amen.

You will watch the candy-cane-crazed youth sprint laps, glasses teetering and table settings trembling from the sturdy stomps of tiny feet. You will wish for such enthusiasm for life and jogging.

But of all things to be expected this holiday time, this I know is true:

We will delight when it is here and too quickly forget when it is over.

Here’s to remembering. May this be the year we don’t lose our hearts of thanks with season’s end.


What is one thing you’ve come to expect from your holiday festivities?

Also taking bets: Mariah Carey would wear full prom regalia to the Piggly Wiggly. $5 says even her pajamas are sequined.


37 thoughts on “5-1: Uncle Larry sets his eyebrows on fire

  1. Christmastime with family has changed over the years for us. We used to cram my mom’s entire side of the family into my grandparents’ mobile home — a singlewide — every Christmas. There was lots of drinkin’, lots of swearin’, enormous quantities of food, and we all had a grand time. And everybody older than 18 smoked! Ay yi yi. Now it’s just us Greys — dad, sons, uncle, and grandparents. I do the cooking (though Mom helps). And I banned smoking in my home.

    The Mariah Carey video is just wonderful. The girl can sing, oh my. But I do wish she’d put them things away, kwim?

  2. I’ve come to expect that I’ll feel guilty when I have to leave my parents’ house after only 12 hours to go to work, but I’ll be glad I got there at all. And then after work I’ll go home and stare and my lit-up tree and try to recapture the Lead-Up!
    Also? Mariah Carey is a hoochie.

    1. Right? Like it would’ve killed her to wear a sweatshirt. Three minutes! For the children! Sorry you have to work. That’s no fun. But glad you have the happy mind to appreciate and celebrate the Lead-Up 🙂

  3. Our Christmases used to look a lot like the Jimmy Fallon video. All the crazy instruments would come out and we’d have a holiday jam with whoever was there. Now that we’ve “grown-up” the music teacher sensibility rules and carols must be sung in tune. Not as much fun, but definitely easier to listen to.

  4. Our Christmases used to be a HUGE meal on the 24th, followed by gifts that proved far less satisfactory every year. (Jeez, that sounds AWFUL – it wasn’t that bad, it was a lot of fun – and BLOATING. 😀 )
    Recently, Christmas has meant a day at home, alone, watching some marathon or other. NOT fun. But this year promises a new start, with the wife home BOTH Christmas Eve AND Day!
    And .. um … sequins? What about what Mariah wasn’t wearing? I didn’t notice – I was staring at … at ..
    (Hey, I may be MARRIED, but I ain’t DEAD…. yet! 😉 )

  5. My own clever retort was overshadowed by Andra Watkins’. And also, I’m heading over to her house for the holidays, too. Even though I don’t know her in the slightest. Hope she’s in the mood for company!

  6. Merry Christmas, Tori.

    At this point, I don’t expect anything (except to watch Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Carol). Our celebration has changed from year to year because we’re so spread out ~ with 1000’s of miles separating one from another.

  7. Your Christmas sounds like one I’ve always wished to experience….. maybe just once or twice. 😉 My family? I just expect to dress better, eat a lot, and possibly go out somewhere to walk aimlessly around. This year though, as I’m by myself across the ocean, I’m just expecting the eating a lot part. Have an extra drink for me, will you? 🙂

    1. NAILED IT. Although I’m usually good with toes. It’s running into wall corners with my big ‘ol nose that always hurts the most. Nothing quiet and subtle about my sneaking 🙂

    1. I think I’m getting imune to the crying. My husband will come in all “What the hell is going on here?” and I’m just sitting there oblivious to the crazy crying and tantrums like “Huh? This is quiet time, homey.”.

    1. Oh, yuck. I’ve got the post- holiday Flu funk happening right this minute. My face has given up on life. Positive note: I think I lost ten pounds in 24 hours. I’ve heard that food is supposed to be fuel but whatever. I can’t smell or taste a thing so I just gave up eating altogether.

      1. Definitely. That was covered in Freshman Orientation. I’ve exhausted all efforts to get cast on Real World. Something about having a toddler and going to bed at 6 pm turned them off 😦

    1. I’ve spent one holiday alone ever. I was dreading it, worried and fretted about all the aloneness. Then it came and was GLORIOUS. So quiet and peaceful and easy and free! After this family gift of Flu I might just go back to solo holidays 🙂

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