And with this we see my very final Sunday Times Column for the year. I promise to keep them coming every week again next year.
I’ll try blog a little between now and then, but can’t guarantee it, I think my pip needs a small but well-timed break, and I’m sure yours does too.
I just want to thank everyone who stops by here once in a while for your support and love (and want to give a special mention with cherries on top to Dave and Chryssa, who I know both visit and comment often) peace to all of you, I hope you have a fabulous festive season, and that nobody stabs you in the neck with serving fork at any point.
A MILLION MILES FROM NORMAL – By Paige Nick
When it comes to the festive season, I think we treat family a bit like we treat food. We gorge ourselves on it all day and all night for the full duration of the holidays, until we literally feel sick to our stomachs and would be quite happy to never see another plate of food, or another uncle again till next December.
To get to the bottom of the family dramas we expose ourselves to every year, the basic human truth is that all families are crazy. Sometimes, from the outside, it looks like there are some that are quite normal, don’t be fooled, it’s a scam. It’s the ones who pretend to be the most normal who are actually the most crazy. They’re the ones with the skeletons in their closets, literally. Well not really, research shows they’re far more likely to keep them in the basement.
While families come in all shapes, sizes, colours and religions, at the end of the day they generally share the same basic crazy components.
Every family has the grabby uncle. He’s the one who kisses with his mouth just a little too open for your liking. There’s also the cousin who thinks he’s funny. He’ll tell bad jokes all night, and don’t stand too close, chances are he’ll spit on you, often through a moustache.
You can also always count on the crazy, drunk, spinster aunt (that would be me). An inappropriate relationship with cats here is optional. And let’s not forget Aunty Raymond, who is the only person in the room other than his wife, who doesn’t think he’s gay. And what’s with all the moms who cook strange things? Should we really be putting tiny little marshmallows in the potato salad? Probably not, Rhonda.
What’s that Doris, did you say they’re from the marsh meadows? No Gran, they’re marshmallows! ‘Harsh Fellows?’ No gran, marshmallows. ‘Oh Mars yellows!’ Yes gran, they’re Mars yellows.
And this year, let’s not set knife-yielding Uncle Hunter next to the hippie, vegan, emo distant cousin who doesn’t eat meat, or chicken, or fish, or anything with a face, or anything processed, or anything with roots, or anything that’s food, shall we?
And while we’re on the subject, why is there always one screaming spoilt brat who makes your palm itch?
These family gatherings are our own private nativity scenes which we play out year after year around the dining room table. Except we replace the wise men with drunk men, and the Virgin Mary with Cousin Vera. Say no more.
But we still go back for more every year, because you see you don’t get to choose your family. (If we did no one would pick the grumpy fathers, the overbearing mothers, or the annoying siblings.) We accept them as part of us, and tolerate them from year to year, until the tension builds and builds and it all becomes too much, and one day somebody ends up with a gaping chest wound.
Like 27-year-old Shenika Allsup, who was arrested in America a few weeks ago for stabbing her half-brother in the neck with a serving fork at Thanksgiving dinner. Nothing says happy holidays quite like a fork in the neck. Fortunately nobody was hurt too badly, but mom was furious. She slaved over a hot stove for hours on that turkey, you know!
But all the craziness aside, there’s something deeply satisfying about sharing a table with the people you share all that DNA and all that history with. These are our people. They’re given to us, and so we stick together because we simply don’t have a choice in the matter.
So, if at any point these holidays, you feel the overwhelming urge to stab your Mother-in-law with a turkey leg, please just stop, take a deep breath and think about Jacob Zuma for a moment. He has five wives, which means he must have at least five mother-in-laws. See, no matter how bad things get, there’s always someone out there worse off than you, to help make you feel better about your situation. And if that doesn’t work, theresh alwaysh alcohol.
Merry Chrishmash and a happy new shyear.