I’m afraid because of my laziness and assorted computer crashes, this has been built up so that most are expecting something far more interesting than what follows. Be ye forewarned.
I went to Connecticut for a week at Christmas. This is the Irish Catholic side of my family (although I was raised Jewish), so it was a Christmas and not a Hanukkah vacation.
Originally, the plan was that I was going to stay at my grandmother’s for a couple of nights and then move over to my aunt Louise’s, to a) give my grandmother some room and b) give me some room.
My grandmother is 85 and mentally doing quite well, but her back is wrecked by arthritis. She still lives in the 2-story townhouse she has lived in since before I was born.
The problem is, she still feels, despite the fact that she’s in constant pain, that she’s being a Bad Host if she doesn’t keep her guests (especially grandchildren) constantly entertained.
This is part of the reason I don’t like staying there: Every time she tries to be a Good Host, she ends up overdoing it and in serious pain.
The other parts are that the sofabed is so painful that I’ve discovered it’s more comfortable to just put the cushions on the floor and just sleep on those, and also that it can get kind of dull. But never mind.
The master plan, however, was all screwed up by the fact that my aunt came down with Bronchitis From Hell, and her husband caught the Death Flu that’s been going around.
Seeing as how it probably was not going to be a good idea to violate the quarantine zone around their house, I ended up staying at grandma’s for six days.
And when I say staying at grandma’s, I mean staying at grandma’s. I left the house four times in six days. Grandma no longer has a car, and there’s not much within walking distance of her house.
The consequence? I got to listen to several very, very long conversations about needlepoint between my mother and grandmother, and I ended up reading most of The Rise And Fall of the Third Reich, an 1150 page history text.
Christmas itself was good. The food was great. My mom cooked, and she really can’t cook much, but she can cook a damn good turkey dinner.
Christmas dinner was actually not all that different from Thanksgiving dinner, the main difference being the dessert: cookies at Christmas vs. pies at Thanksgiving.
I got a few “What the fuck?” gifts:
– A doorknob hanger that says “Let it snow!”
– A t-shirt that says “Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most!” (which is true, but still kind of an odd gift)
– A 12 months of Cute Kittens calendar
– A little thing to wipe the interior fog off the windshield of your car, which is so much more useful in California than it would have been in Chicago…oh, wait…
– A tray, painted blue, with stickers of Washington landmarks shellacked onto it.
This last item was made and given to me by my mother. Mark, who had seen its creation, advised her: “She’ll hate it.” Thanks, buddy.
I didn’t so much hate it as I was utterly baffled by it. My mother is (or at least should be) well aware of my hatred of my hometown, and I don’t know why she thought I needed a tray. The gift puzzles me, but I’ll find some use for it.
I also got some cool stuff, mostly in the form of gift certificates (an Old Navy one coming right in time, since my last pair of pants that fit got a hole in them during the trip) and a set of Dick Van Dyke Show DVDs (fuck you, that show is hysterical).
The times I got out were good too, as when we took a priest friend of my grandma’s, Father Will, out to lunch for his birthday the day after christmas. Food that wasn’t turkey is always a plus.
Other Ellen also managed to bust me out and take me down to Waterbury where we played pool at a pool hall with quite possibly the Sketchiest Entrance Ever.
She and her friend then forced me to watch Clue at the friend’s house, since I’m a bad film major and had never seen it. I thought it was really cracked out, but was amused.
I was also amused that my grandmother was positively horrified when I told her I had gone to a pool hall in Waterbury. She apparently grew up there when it was a bit rougher than it currently is, and was amazed I made it back alive.
I also went out with my cousin Mark for pho, which is a sort of vietnamese soup he really likes. Alas, his favorite pho place had run out of soup at 4:30pm, about 4 hours before they normally did, but we went someplace else and it was still good.
Anyway, that’s really about it, it was a tremendously boring trip, but it was nice to see my family. Oh wait, there was one more thing….
The shower at my grandmother’s house broke while we were there. I hate taking baths, because I can’t shake the feeling that I’m just sitting in my own filth, so I decided to try and fix it.
Fortunately, the reason it broke was because a couple of plastic things fell out, and it took me five minutes to put them back together and rig it so it would at least work until a plumber could fix it right.
My mom, who has a tendency to make odd statements, particularly to me, upon seeing this, said “Isn’t it nice to have a lesbian in the house so things can get fixed?”
I just smiled and shook my head.