We had the Eby/Kolenda/Knaggs/Sirois/Ogle Christmas Family Party last weekend, or EKKSO. It was at my sister’s house, and I can’t tell you where she lives because I never remember the name of the town. Basically, she’s about forty minutes from us and tucked in the woods by a lake. There’s, like, bait shops and churches, and farms with horses on the way there, so it’s like travelling to the moon.We were going to take two cars, but my niece was sick, so instead me, Kealoha, Franz, Moxie and Nana all piled into one car. Moxie was upset by this.
MOXIE: Nana! You’re not supposed to be in the car!
NANA: (gently) But we’re all driving together.
MOXIE: Mommy says you’re supposed to go on the roof!
Did I say that? Yes. Yes I did, but it was taken out of context. Kealoha said it first that if Romney could carry a dog on the roof, then we could put Nana up there, and I said it would be like National Lampoon Vacation and Nana would have a great time, so, yes, TECHINICALLY I said she should go on the roof.
But she didn’t. And I wedged my enormous hips sideways between the two kids’ car seats in the back and wished that I didn’t have such birthin’ hips OR that I could resist cheese and logs and balls and dips.
It was cold out. I was giving Kealoha directions. I could feel his blood pressure rising. That’s because he’s used to GPS systems. Essentially, I was the GPS system, but it went sorta like this:
ME: So, okay, I’m not sure where or when you turn, but I’m pretty sure it’s by a grocery store and you probably turn right. Oh, in a mile or so. A country mil…TURN! TURN NOW!
ME: Now we’re looking for a church with one of those big steeple like things and then we’re either going to turn left or right or go past it a bit. Just be on the lookout for a church. Or a barn.
FRANZ: This road is curvy.
ME: I know.
MOXIE: You look weird, Mom.
ME: That is because I drive really slow on this road. But Kealoha is doing a good job. I did not even notice that he’s going 57 and I usually go 40. He’s very good at driving.
KEALOHA: Ha! Am I making you nervous?
MOXIE: You don’t seem nervous, Mom.
ME: Not on the outside. INTERNALLY, I’m pretty much screaming. Turn! TURN NOW!
We made it there in one piece, physically. Maybe not psychologically.
And then we were wrapped up in the chaos of my family. All the good stuff that happens at family gatherings was there: awkward conversations until the drinks kicked in, duos sneaking off to smoke and get caught up (Kealoha and I avoided this), jokes, performing children, undercurrents of past hurts that everyone tries to pretend aren’t there but you can feel them vibrating….you know….Christmas.
Then it started to snow giant fluffy flakes and we dove into presents.
We laughed. We got good gifts. We hugged. Nana was thrilled with her gigantic box of chocolates and iPod and asked if the iPod had “Fifty Shades Of Gray” on it. We were all uncomfortable. My nephew loved his purple unicorn shirt and immediately put it on. The kids got toys (including Kealoha), and I got a very cool wallet. And then it was over.
The only thing left was a forty-minute ride home through near-blizzard slush/sleet/rain/snow, but I tried to keep my eyes closed. Nana stayed in the car on the way back too instead of the roof. We’re considerate like that.