Sunday, 19 January 2014

Family Christmases are Funny

Christmas was ages ago, but I'm feeling the need to stretch out the festivities this year (possibly because I was still working up until 9pm on Christmas Eve).

Being in close proximity to family members for days on end can produce the odd tense moment as turkey-roasting methods are called into question by people who haven't been slaving over a hot stove for hours. Some families hate each other at the best of times and enforced togetherness is a gruelling chore to survive, rather than a joyous occasion of family unity.

And then there's my family, which is delightfully eccentric.

You'll be pleased to know that I asked my family's approval before
 publising this post, hence the blanked out name. Makes you wonder 
about the stories that got vetoed out, doesn't it..?

This picture was created one day when we were musing "What would we call a book written about us?" My apologies for the poor quality of the photos; they were taken on a phone a few years ago while we were watching 24 and imitating Chloe's crosspatch expression.

As you already know from my previous posts, we keep a written record of our silliest moments (known as "The Book". As I'm too lazy to write a proper blog, I thought I'd treat you to some of its highlights.

Appropriately enough, religion often features (although a discussion of Christmas card aesthetics resulted in mum saying "This is going to sound awful, but I think the ones with nativity scenes look a bit... old hat"). 

She also read a book which mentioned that the way Jesus' burial clothes were folded was symbolically significant in the Jewish culture at the time. It turns out to be one of those apocryphal stories, but it was worth it to hear mum say "I thought he was just being neat and tidy".

On another occasion: "You know that Tony Pearce, who writes a letter about the last days? Well, he always ends on a high note..."

"Talkin' 'bout the end of days..." This reminded me that my family might be
 more redneck than I realised.  (Any excuse to include a Pistol Annies track.)

Christmas is of course the season for watching TV (Mum: "What's that programme you like? 'Retarded Development'?") and all those seasonal specials are great when you're feeling festively plump and boozily sleepy. Michael  Bubl√© elicited the response "Is there something wrong with his legs?" ("No mum, he's dancing") and Dad channelled Christophe again when he saw some celebrity women who had posed without makeup for charity: "They look as if they've crawled out from under a rock."

Then there was the time that mum walked in halfway through a news story about the late Pope John Paul II becoming a saint. Seeing a doddery old man on screen, she pointed out "He doesn't look very well."
Dad: "He's dead"

The morbid sense of humour continued with dad's search for someone to mend a dripping tap: "Of course, the trouble with all these good, older plumbers is that they'll be retiring or dying soon.. but then so will I, so what's the difference...?"

Then mum said that she'd like a particular painting on her 'bucket list'.
Me: "You do know that a bucket list is things to do before you kick the bucket, don't you?"
Mum, brightly: "Oh, p'raps I mean 'wish basket'."

Another recurring theme was the redneck lifestyle (not surprising for a family who go bowling and eat burgers on mother's day). One day when I was assuming dad would be playing golf, I went to say good morning to my mum, who was sitting in bed in semi-darkness. She said "I'm watching the shopping channel!" to which I naturally replied, in my best True Blood accent, "I'm a redneck! I have a son named Bubba and I like watching the shopping channel!" I then sat on my dad, who, unbeknownst to me had skipped his golf game because of the rain, and was still snuggled under the covers trying to sleep, hence the dark room and low volume. Until I showed up. Oops. 

You might REALLY be a redneck if your favourite kind of shopping 
involves staying in your PJs all day.

Mum's alcohol consumption is always good for a laugh; luckily this year my brother didn't make any of his lethal cocktails, so there was no risk of mum leading us in a midnight conga down the street (at least, no more risk than usual). She is well-known for not generally drinking very much, which is why I was once heard to say "She normally only has a thumplefold... a thumble... I don't know what I'm trying to say..." 

(I meant "thimble-full", and yes, I may have had a bit of a head start on the wine at that point.)

When Dad offered to top up her glass, she squeaked "Just a tinsy, tinsy bit... that's enough!" to which he retorted "I haven't put any in yet!"

Dad and I also had a conversation about the practice of standing up in bars:
Dad: "I don't like to stand up when I drink."
Me: "No!"
Dad: "And I don't like standing up when I eat!"
Me: "No!"
Both together: "I don't like standing up!"

The book has also revealed some interesting evidence of possible past lives as animals: Further to Dad's identification with birds, we've realised that my mother has an unusual level of empathy for crocodiles. "I think people are quite cruel to crocodiles they only eat people because they're hungry". On another occasion she complained about the way "people are always tying them up with rope." (Dad: "Well, you wouldn't tie them up with sellotape, would you?") 

Check out this croc's goofy grin: What's not to love?

We also offer sympathy to all manner of inanimate objects; when Mum and I entertained ourselves by drawing a face on a melon (there's no end to our fun activities) Dad interrupted all the pointing and laughing with "Don't be mean!"

My favourite Mum story occurred when she was doing a crossword and announced "And I didn't know an ounce is called a snow leopard."  Although for a few moments it seemed that she'd been replaced by a robot and her brain-to-mouth function was short-circuiting, it turns out to be true. (To be exact, a snow leopard is also known as an ounce, so it won't really work if you go to the sweetshop and ask for five snow leopards of gum drops.)

Amid all this hilarity, I told her "Ooh, you're Tony Bennett all over, you are. Oh.... not Tony Bennett, Alan Bennett..."
  
It must be genetic. 

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