It Sure Beats Rikers

Somewhere, in my palatial one bedroom apartment, I have misplaced a present. I recall cheering when I found it on my welcome mat. I recall opening the mailing envelope. The insulating bubble wrap is sitting on my couch. And yet, I can’t find that present. What the hell?

I’ll find it. It’s here. I asked the cat where one of us put it. He’s been no help whatsoever.

Until yesterday, the plan was that right now, I’d be getting dressed for dinner at Mom’s and swearing under my breath but – and I say this with exhausted glee – Mom’s sick and I’m home alone with the cat. Wheee! My stepfather Tom came to the store yesterday and delivered the news that Mom wasn’t feeling up to snuff.

Tom: Deine Mutter ist krank.

Okay, he didn’t deliver his lines in German. I’m hamming it up. See, Anya ran over from the toy store ten minutes before with fantastic news –

Anya: Guess what! Guess what! Your mom’s sick and our parents are thinking of postponing Christmas dinner!
Tata: Get out! I might get tomorrow off?
Anya: We can just eat on Thursday, anyhow. Why have dinner twice?
Tata: Speaking of which, I need a few things for Thursday. Where am I gonna get anchovies and a plastic deer head?
Anya: We have So-And-So again for the Not-So-Secret Santa. We had him last year and I don’t know what to get him anymore.
Tata: How about 49 things from the dollar store and gum?

– So when Tom appeared, I attempted to look surprised.

Tom: Your mother’s sick.
Tata: And you’re thinking of postponing?

Damn! That was his line!

Tom: Well, we are aware that if we postpone some of us who may have committed to dinner may not have other places to go.
Tata: I personally would be overjoyed to have no place to go. I’m thawing a duck as we speak.
Tom: You’re very talented.
Tata: Thank you. Thursday, then?
Tom: [ … ]

Tom said something but no one knows what it was, and it is now lost in the sands of time. I recall not being sure if I was off the hook for today. Even so, we were in the store and the public had gift-giving needs and I’m not entirely certain I said goodbye when he left. That’s a little anticlimactic for you. I apologize! Consider it a simple denoument and let’s crank it up.

On Thursday, Mom, Tom, Daria, Anya, Corinne, Miss and Mr. Sasha, assorted spouses, seven children and I will stuff ourselves into one house, eat too much and exchange gifts. The truth is we dread this day every year because if dinner is supposed to be at 3 it will be at 9 and the kids go crazy and there’s no room for everyone to sit down so it’s a constant game of musical chairs. With eggnog and glitter. I can work my way around a shrimp ring while everyone else runs in circles but the parents of small children lose their tempers after three or four hours of cramped, festive togetherness. One of these years, we’ll have a homicide.

On New Year’s Eve, Dad, Darla arrive at Auntie InExcelsisDeo’s from Canada, and we replay Italian Christmas Eve. The manicotti for this event now shivers in Auntie’s freezer. Rejoice! Planning, effort and homemade crepes have come together in such a way that I now have days of peace and quiet. If I am tired, I can nap. I am tired. I’ve napped once this morning and may nap outrageously again later. It would be divine if I had a companion to play with but I don’t and can’t do anything about that. On the other hand, I’m 45 minutes away from crisp roasted duck.

By the way, I moved a few things and found the lost present.

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