Yes, I know that based on movies and TV commercials, Christmas is supposed to be all about joy and magic and wonder. But let’s face it, when your holiday gathering includes cranky and critical elderly parents rather than small children, magic and wonder are not going to happen, and the bar for “success” is set pretty low.
Fortunately, this year we had Mother Nature and her unseasonably warm temperatures on our side. So when my parents arrived on the 24th, we went out letterboxing. This entailed a very long walk through moderately scenic conservation land in record-setting 69 degree weather.
That particular conservation tract has been rumored to contain a purple shack where high school students go to buy drugs. When I saw this shack, I thought perhaps we’d found the infamous building, and it was described as purple rather than green to confuse parents.
Then we realized that even drug dealers probably wouldn’t operate out of a wide-open outhouse.
Having the open side face the trail, for absolutely minimal privacy, makes it even more bizarre — although having a dilapidated outhouse on public conservation land was pretty weird to begin with.
Dinner was a fish-related extravaganza although we didn’t attempt to hit 7 kinds. And then my parents went to sleep in the guest room, where we’d managed to fit the spare cot in beside the twin bed, so nobody had to share a room with teenage-boy-smell.
Christmas morning, my mother and I headed out fairly early to do a little more letterboxing. Because if you ask me for a bread knife, and I hand you the serrated knife we always use, and you refuse it because it’s technically a steak knife, and then you get out a different non-serrated knife, and then you get annoyed that it’s not cutting your bread properly, then I would rather wander the woods counting off 65 paces along a stone wall from a triple-trunked tree than continue sharing a kitchen with you. Ahem. Not much to be said for the theoretical scenic vista, but at least it was neutral territory.
Back at the house, E had brought her mom over, and we then attempted to make coffee for everyone using the dying coffee-maker. It started leaking coffee out of every orifice it had (plus some it didn’t), at which point I heaved it out the window to minimize the mess dripping into the floor, and E’s single-serving French press went into overtime.
We entertained ourselves at Christmas dinner by making predictions for 2016. Each of us had to predict:
— 1 US political event
— 1 general news event
— 1 positive event
— 2 famous people who would die
Yes, this counts as uplifting entertainment by our family’s standards.
We also reviewed how well we’d done with last year’s predictions. I had succeeded with “Boston will not be nominated to host the Olympics” and “Governor Deval Patrick will fade into obscurity.” E unfortunately also succeeded with “there will be a major terrorist event outside the US.” In good news, all of the people on our 2015 death-prediction list are still alive and kicking.
Finally, E took her mom home, while M and I and my parents did one more round of letterboxing before my parents drove home.
Whew. All done for another year.