Hannugivmas

WARNING: Excruciating detail within.

That would be a combination of Hannukah, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. I was also considering Chrigivukkah and Thankstmukkah, but I figured the above was the proper word.

So, my trip to Connecticut to visit my mom and all her relatives. Where I still am, by the way, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

After getting dropped off at Midway by Mark, who agreed to do so because I offered to lend him my car in exchange, I ended up in the most ridiculous line at security. I mean it was Thanksgiving day, and it took me half an hour. Pure insanity.

I managed to pass out even before the plane took off, which made my flight nice and stress-free. This was not to be a harbinger of the weekend.

My mom picked me up from the airport, and we went back to my grandmother’s house and had a nice(!) Thanksgiving dinner. My grandma has apparently started taking both prozac and some new arthritis medication, both of which have done significant good in the effort to make her more agreeable.

I tried to watch the Redskins-Cowboys game, but the triptophan (or however the fuck you spell it, the turkey drug) defeated those efforts, and I only got to watch the ‘Skins fold like a cheap card table during the fourth quarter.

Friday we didn’t leave the house because (gasp!) it snowed. My grandmother hates driving even when it’s sunny, and my mom will not go if there is a bloody flake on the road, and neither of them trusted me to drive grandma’s car in the snow, so we stayed home, watched TV, and read.

The main problem I have staying at my grandmother’s house is sleeping. She has a fold-out couch in her den, but the mattress is so old and decrepit that the bar of the couch that’s supposed to hold the mattress up in the middle simply pokes me in the back.

I tried solving this problem by simply sleeping on the couch part, but the problem with this solution is that the couch is about a foot shorter, lengthwise, than I am, thus making it quite difficult for me to sleep without turning my back into a knot.

I managed to find half a solution last night by just dumping the couch cushions onto the floor and sleeping on them, but it was still far from an ideal sleeping arrangement. I tried to put on a happy face to my grandma, since she’s got enough to deal with, but my mom asked if I was comfortable, and I had to say no.

I’ve been granted a reprieve this evening onto the futon in my aunt Louise’s basement (and also the computer in her basement, so I’m typing this up before I go back to Ev,IL and actually have shit to do, like, you know, study for finals).

I’ve read three books in four days, which will be working its way up to four if I have insomnia tonight anywhere near as bad as I have the last couple of nights.

The Christmas/Hannukah portion of everything taking place at this point is about 98% my fault, since because of custody issues with my mom and my dad, I get Thanksgiving with one and Christmas with the other, so I celebrate Christmas/Hannukah whenever I come to Connecticut, whether it’s the appropriate time of year or not.

The rest of my relatives wait for their gifts from each other, since they all live in Connecticut and can deal, but mom and I get our gifts now.

The process is really the thing that drives me the most insane. Everyone gets all their gifts passed out to them, and then we go around opening them from oldest to youngest. But we don’t just open them. No no, that would be far too simple for this family.

Each person opens their present, holds it up for all to see, and everyone goes, “Ooooh!” Normal so far, right? Then the gift is passed around so each member of the party can individually inspect it, and it must be returned to its rightful owner before the proceedings can…proceed.

This is why it took almost three hours to go through about three dozen presents for the entire group combined.

I’m certainly not complaining about getting gifts, I just think there might possibly be a way to do it in a somewhat more efficient fashion.

Anyway, I came out pretty well, getting a couple books I wanted and some nice sweaters and such. Everyone always gets at least one head-scratcher every year, and mine this year was a gift from my cousin Mark‘s parents, who gave me a Florida State beach towel.

I go to Northwestern. I have never once professed to liking Florida State. There’s a possibility that maybe they confused the Florida State Seminole logo with the ‘Skins logo, but otherwise, I can’t think of any other plausible explanation, especially because it said FLORIDA STATE in great big letters on the towel, which you’d think would be a dead giveway.

The other fun family trivia bit was my mom’s gift to me of Christopher Buckley’s No Way To Treat A First Lady, which I had caught her reading earlier (I had specifically asked for it). This lead to a story I hadn’t heard before that really reveals exactly how insane my family really is.

Apparently, there is a longstanding tradition on my mom’s side of the family of reading books before giving them as gifts.

This tradition was so ingrained, in fact, that when my uncle Harry was dying back in 1996, and my uncle Kevin gave him the (at the time) new Tom Clancy novel, Harry automatically asked him, “So, how is it?”

When Kevin replied that he hadn’t yet read it, Harry (who had been in and out of the hospital for four years at this point) reportedly made a joke to the effect of, “Boy, I’m really screwed this time, aren’t I?”

What can I say? I guess we Leonards have a morbid sense of humor, although Harry, bless his soul, really did outdo us all with that one.

So after that family joyousness, we returned to my grandmother’s for a delicious, nutritious meal of Franks and Beans, and for me to try out my couch-cushions-on-the-floor sleeping arrangement.

Jamie (my freshman year roommate and future roomate of Jon, for those just tuning in) had called me to say she was also going to be in West Hartford, since her grandparents live here, too. She’s been in New York City all quarter, so we decided to go out to breakfast this morning.

She said she was going to come by at 9:30, so I made the brilliant move of setting my alarm not only for an hour late (since I hadn’t changed the time zone on my Palm Pilot, and shut up, it’s a useful device) but for the next day. I had to bolt downstairs in my pajamas to let her in so she wouldn’t freeze while I threw some clothes on.

We went to Friendly’s, which is a nice little restaurant chain up here in New England, and got pancakes and such. We were pointed into Friendly’s by a rather crazy and/or drunk man, who I was surprised to see at 9:30am in West Hartford, which is normally populated by people whose average age hovers somewhere around 79.

It was nice to be able to catch up, and it sounds like she’s been having fun in New York City, despite some slightly batty roommates. It was fun going through and catching her up on the gossip (“WHO has a [insert appropriate gender here]friend?!”) and such. It’ll be nice to have her back.

After a nice little nap, I went out and saw Far From Heaven with my mom and my aunt, and realized exactly how big a film nerd I’ve become, especially because I was able to explain a lot about Douglas Sirk to two people old enough to have seen his movies in first-run theaters.

And finally, I came back to my aunt’s house and watched my first full episode of The Sopranos. Yes I know, I’m a horrible film major for not rushing out and watching the DVD’s when they came out. I just never got around to it.

I had to have my aunt explain who most of the people were, but it was fairly entertaining. Now that I’m poised to be an unemployed lazy ass for a while, I think I’ll have to watch some of those to pass the time.

So that’s been my trip so far. I’m due to leave tomorrow, but I’ve been told that major snow is expected in Chicago tomorrow. Predicitons range from 3-7 inches on the high side to 1-3 on the low side, so hopefully I will not be sleeping in the Hartford airport tomorrow (sweet Jeebus, no!).

I consider this a good trip, though, despite wanting to snap from having a smile plastered on my face all week.

My mom only asked me once if I was seeing anybody, only one of my relatives asked how my job search was going (mostly because I think mom warned the rest of them), and nobody besides mom pressed me on whether I was seeing anyone. My mom even complimented me on how much better I was being this trip than I was when I was there for Christmas last year.

I did have to point out that last year a) I was in the process of having my heart broken, so I wasn’t really up for plastering on the smile and b) my grandmother was in significantly more pain then, so it made it harder for either of us to put up with the other’s crap.

As much as I bitch, I can safely say it certainly could have been worse.

And that’s as much as I ever hope for with a trip to Connecticut.

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