“You’re going to have to write a movie about this some day.”
That was the motto of my Christmas return to Lawrence. This was the first time I had been back in Kansas for the holiday in 5 years, and the first time all 4 of my siblings and myself had been together for the holiday in 12 years. I’ve written about my family and our particular relationships before, and if you’ve read my writing or met anyone in my family, you can probably get a vague idea of what it’s like to be in the same room with all 5 of us at once (when my mother is in that room, the only real difference is a decline in the use of the word ‘fuck’).
We’re opinionated, self-important blowhards. When we’re in agreement on a subject (like whether or not to beat someone’s ass), then we’re a (drunken) force to be reckoned with. When we’re in disagreement, however (a more frequent event), we are Iraq in the springtime. The Gaza Strip at dawn. Darfur when the orchids bloom.
We all have our pet peeves, and what one of us thinks is worthy of fighting about, another one will roll their eyes at. But give it 20 minutes or 24 hours, and the Ghandi-esque member of the family will be in a yelling match all their own. We like to be right. I think we like to fight more.
But that’s how we’ve always been. That’s just the backstory to this particular Christmas Tale that was by most definitions a disaster of epic proportion.
For a story to be truly funny (and this one is), you need distance, and we don’t have it yet. Already, it’s fairly funny if you’ve got the kind of perverse sense of humor my family breeds, but it’ll grow funnier as the memories blur and the only details we really remember are the basic plot points.
To wit: There was a blizzard on Christmas Eve, angry family members, Tequila, Vodka and Whiskey, oh my!, late night drunk driving (or not; depends who you ask and who’s asking), a car stuck in a snow bank, a ride home with a cop (“I’ve got 2 warrants!”), hands frozen in negative degree temperatures, hours spent fruitlessly trying to get said car started (or even just towed), my girlfriend falling face first into the snow, my personal rendezvous with an old friend canceled, a tow truck, more angry family members, a night out at the bars, fighting with my girlfriend, drinking with strangers, my sister dancing with strangers, a random chick fight that resulted in my girlfriend (an innocent bystander) getting punched in the head (I’m sure she’s glad she came), and ultimately an amazingly successful surprise party thrown for my mother who just this month graduated from college.
Oh, yeah, and my brother’s cat dropped dead and I had to go bury it in the snow.
Let me reiterate that: The cat died.
I know you’re wanting to say, “Oh man, have I got a crazy Christmas story for you. This one year…”
But just stop. Does your story end with, “The cat died.” No, it does not. The motherfuckin’ cat died.
What. The. Shit.
So, yeah, maybe someday somebody will have to write a movie about this Christmas experience and fill in all the little character moments between the major plot points. I could do it or a sibling or one of the onlookers, but really it doesn’t matter. The story writes itself.
The only real question: Who’s going to direct? You either go mainstream and think Jay Roach (get the “Meet the Parents” vibe), or you go dark. I like dark. You couldn’t do a PG-13 movie with the amount of cussing we do. I’m rooting for Lars von Trier or Michael Haneke. But that’s just me.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There’s a reason I don’t celebrate Christmas.
Have a great New Year, and get belligerently drunk. Nothing good happens when you’re sober.
P.S. Enjoy some photos of my nephews enjoying their holidays.