Prattle on
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
So, I spent the weekend in an extremely sexy outfit. Why, sadly, it was for no good reason. In a short skirt and tank top and a pair of grey work socks (probably the best sock purchase I have ever made. I bought them at Mark’s Work Wearhouse in 1994 before I went of to university residence thinking, for some reason, that the work socks would come in handy in the residence halls come winter, and boy did they, and every winter following. I’ve had these socks longer than I’ve had GRC for a best friend) I cleaned my house from top to bottom. This is an expression of either my connection to my Guyanese tradition (In Guyana, before the New Year, you are to “break up the house”, which isn’t as fun as it sounds. Basically you are to clean like your name is Florence and you’re living with the Jefferson’s), or my sexual frustration. I’ve decided to save face and just go with the tradition angle. So, yeah, I’m keeping it real.

I’m heading home to Toronto on Wednesday morning. I’m getting set for a Christmas full of screaming. Not because my family fights, but because that is just the way we communicate. You just walk into the living room and start yelling at people, in order to start a conversation. That’s just the way it is. We yell at each other and eat. It’s a lot of fun. I am getting ready for a serious dose of yelling and food. Thankfully, they have stopped shooting Gin on Christmas morning. Things were a little crazier then.

Christmas is a smaller holiday for us. Typically, we have dinner for 25 people. That’s nothing compared to the 45 at Thanksgiving and 35 at Easter. I totally understand that 25 at Christmas is a lot for most families. We like to kick it up a notch. It is a lot of fun. When I was a kid I just assumed every family was like this.

A few times Christmas dinner has descended into complete chaos. It has always been a favourite pastime for the older cousins (yours truly) to give too much dinner wine to the younger cousins (children between the ages of six and ten). Back when two of my cousins were in the age group, with the help of my uncle Steve, eight-year-old was drunk enough to make a speech while standing on a dinner chair (OK, she was imitating my mother, who, was also drunk) the other cousin hid under the table during dessert. Those were the days.

It all started in 1982. My aunt Pauline was spending more than a year in Nigeria on a development project with CIDA, I guess. In the tradition of my family, before my aunt got a video camera, we taped our Christmas dinner on a cassette and sent it to my aunt, who was actually miserable in Nigeria. Nothing would make her feel better than an audio-tape of us having dinner at Christmas time, the dinner she missed.

Each relative took the mic (yes, we have microphones) for a few minutes to wish Auntie Pauline a Merry Christmas and a happy new year. When you listen to the tape you can hear my seven-year-old voice saying “Happy Christmas Auntie Pauline. I got a doll, light bright, and a set of drums like Animal in the Muppets.” During my little speech, if you listen closely, you can hear my Aunt Joy saying “Why is Dion drinking so much wine?”

Now, Dion is a little more than two years younger than I am and his birthday is on December 30th. On Christmas day 1982, Dion was actually 4. My sister has the best memories from that day. I was too young to really remember. I think he fell over and then went to bed really early. That wasn’t a result of someone feeding him wine. I think he just found a number of abandoned wine glasses on the table. Anyway, it was pretty funny.

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