Stop 1: Scottsville, Esmont, Charlottesville Virginia WideEyedFunks:
I was spooning caviar onto a smear of cream cheese at the pre-Christmas dinner snackie spread. Sister-in-law L. and Older Brother set us up with fine cheeses, Dracula’s Dilemma pickled garlic, some kind of awesome aged herbed salami. And caviar.
Our WideEyedParents were across the room and from around the Christmas tree we could hear dad shouting at mom: “Do you want some cold cuts?”
“A cool one?” she said, “no, I don’t want a beer.” Heh. Might be time for hearing tests.
Sister-in-law N. pushed through Sister-in-law L. and me to get to the snackies, “Quit snack blocking,” she told us. I inched my counter stool over an inch or so, but not really too far. I hadn’t tried all the cheeses yet.
I lifted my caviar cracker to take a bite. “You eat that stuff?” Older Brother asked, clearly doubtful. I shrugged and ate the cracker. Older Brother watched me chew. “I don’t eat it,” he said. “Good,” Sister-in-law L. said, “more for the rest of us.”
Older Brother glanced at her and put his attention back on me. “Caviar reminds me of when I had chicken pox in my mouth,” he paused, I think to judge my response. I had stopped chewing, riveted despite my worries for what was coming. “When the chicken pox popped they released salty juices that tasted juuuuust like caviar.” He smiled at me. I swallowed my chewed up and popped caviar with difficulty.
Younger brother walked by, jiggling Baby Nephew. “Oops,” Younger Brother said, watching a big drooly spit up splat to the floor. Hamish and Miss Tibbit were mildly interested. Oldest Brother called from the Sunny Southwest. We talked about Sister-in-law J.’s belly dancing costume and safety pins. Young nephew strolled past in his new skateboard helmet, and Niece clacked at her new laptop.
Stop 2: Ocean City, New Jersey Family of WideEyedSpouse
Two particularly elegant women from My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding accidently joined us for Christmas 2.0.
Older Niece wore her excellent new hat while she thumbed at something on her new smarty phone and Younger Niece trotted around the living room, tormenting Hamish with her interest in his plush fur. He ran, WideEyed, from corner to corner seeking asylum.
Sister-in-law K and Brother-in-law P sat numbly watching Younger Niece and Christmas 2.0 events. They manage in retail and Christmas is Not Kind to the folks who at the most fundamental level facilitate our national economic security.
Mother-in-law sniffed her new Chanel perfume, remembering Valentine’s gifts from her dad back in the day, and WideEyedSpouse and I waited to see what the relentlessly greedy Miss Tibbit would manage to steal from the table.
All the while, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding flickered on the TV behind us, benign and quiet, until we noticed the bride and her maid of honor beating each other into the sidewalk outside of their wedding hall. Sister-in-law K. grabbed the remote to turn it up. We watched in awe.
Stop 3: Buffalo, New York WideEyedHousehold
1,500 miles, 14 accidents in the cat hut, 2 major winter storms, 9 bottles of water, 7 travel cups of coffee, 6 days later, and we are home. The Christmas candles burned in the windows of the WideEyedHouse to greet us. The new snow gleamed on the garden fence and pergola, and Miss Tibbit did a little dance in the drive while Hamish rolled and rolled in the snow.