They forgot to consider the horrific ramifications of marriage. Sharing sheets, for one. Also, whose version of meatloaf is going to win: the mummified husk of overcooked meat from the Larsens, or the sopping wet, bread-infused soupy Fuhriman recipe?
One that did not loom large at the time was CHRISTMAS.
My parents enjoyed around six months of wedded bliss before Christmas rudely interrupted their happily ever after. There were a lot of minefields to tiptoe through.
For a couple of Christmases, they bounced around from one in-law’s house to another. Then I happened. When I was born, my dad heard the ghostly sound of Christmas carols echoing in the hospital, despite the fact that it was January.
It was a sign, like something you’d have happen in the movies where the kid winds up being the anti-Christ.They should have put me up for adoption. We will come back to this shortly.
Finally, about the time I turned three, my parents snapped.
They were going to make their OWN Christmas. They were going to come up with their OWN customs. No more in-laws, no more hodge-podge of random traditions. This was to be the first Keith and Lisa Larsen Family Christmas.
They decided we should watch the George C. Scott version of “A Christmas Carol” on Christmas Eve. But they were poor. They couldn’t afford to buy it so they tried to borrow it from my grandparents’.
That plan was deep sixed, so Mom and Dad made the best of it by borrowing a copy of “The Muppet Christmas Carol” and watching that every Christmas Eve instead.
This was a terrible mistake. We will visit this again.
My Mom made a beautiful Christmas calendar for me and my future siblings to count down to Christmas. You would hang ornaments on the tree for every day of December. The star was first and Santa Claus was last, on Christmas Eve.
Again, this was a very bad idea, and again, we will come back to this.
Both parents wanted a solid-color tree, but they couldn’t decide on a color. Also, all they had were multi colored lights and couldn’t afford more, so a multi colored tree it was. They were really striking out in the Christmas department.
Then…we have the gingerbread house.
I can feel the cavities…
This is a thing of beauty, glory, and sugar shock. Homemade and horrendously difficult to construct, but oh so delicious. It too, became a family tradition.
Were they able to divine the future, however, Mom and Dad would have probably stopped celebrating Christmas and become Hindu or something. They had no idea what that innocent looking three-year old (me) would become.
Eventually five more kids came along. With the exception of me, none of my parents’ spawn could remember a Christmas that did not include the Muppet Christmas Carol, the calendar, the tree and the gingerbread house. It was accepted by all as a Rule of the Universe; the sun will rise in the morning, taxes are due April 15, and the Law of “All of These Things Must Be Done Or It Is Not Christmas”. There was a small problem, however, and that problem manifested itself as Dad.
He had soured on a lot of these traditions. The poor man was forced to endure a group of fraying Muppets sing the same eight songs every Christmas Eve, with no beverage service.
He watched the kids pummel each other every time we assembled the gingerbread house.
He still didn’t like the tree.
The calendar was not as religious as he felt it should be.
Last but not least, his oldest son is completely insane. I freely admit it: when it comes to Christmas, I lose all sense of discretion and propriety. Several times when I was a kid, Dad would come home from work in October to see me playing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” at eighty thousand decibels, knocking Halloween decorations off the walls.
I started planning in August where the tree should go. September was spent wandering through the yard, deciding where lights should be. October was free game for Christmas music. November was spent with giddy anticipation for DECORATION DAY. The day after Thanksgiving, I would wake up all my siblings at about five am and we would start hauling Christmas decorations out of the basement. By the time he got up around seven the living room looked like a bomb had gone off.
The man wanted pie and relaxation, and instead he was handed thousands of twinkling lights by Mom and was forced to go outside in the freezing cold to put them up.
Christmas had ceased to be a celebration of the Savior. It had become a frenzied orgy of stale traditions and utterly unhinged children.
So, one day in November of 2004, Dad approached Mom. Mom is almost as bad as me, but manages to keep some sense of scale. She too admitted that the Christmas season was becoming too hectic, too structured, too cluttered, and was losing its luster. Dad was suddenly reminded of why he married her.
1. The decorations would not go up until December 10.
2. The Muppet Christmas Carol would not be watched Christmas Eve. We could watch it the 23rd if we wanted to, but on Christmas Eve we would be doing other things.
3. The gingerbread house would be done much later in the season.
4. The lights on the tree, when it finally would go up, would be all blue.
As a respectful, mature child, I accepted their decision without complaint. I gracefully informed them that as our parents they had every right to do so.
You people are so gullible. I actually responded like this:
I was quickly sent to my room. But this was not over, oh no. While they finished their home evening upstairs, I plotted my revenge in my basement bedroom, which I had already renamed as the Headquarters of the “Christmas Resistance Movement.”
You’re going to have to come back next week and see what happened. Trust me, it is EPIC.