“Merry Wenceslas!” the old man shouted. He’d been at the tavern all afternoon, getting tanked up on cheer.
“You’re dragging in mud,” the old lady muttered, to no effect. She suffered. How she suffered.
Me and my sister sat near the tree, dry pine needles prickling our tender bottoms, attempting some x-ray eyes shit on the poorly wrapped packages. We willed them to be good toys, but they’d end up being socks, underwear, and plastic toys that would quickly break. But on Christmas Eve, those packages were tabula-rasa-full of possibility.
The old man heaved on the rug. The old lady sighed. The dog made a beeline for the pile of semi-digested peanuts and bits of pickled egg that had been simmering in bottom-shelf whiskey and Carling Black Label deep in his guts.
“Every year,” the old lady lamented. “Every year!” She was busy cooking a goose until the fat dripped over the lip of the pan and set the kitchen on fire, which she put out with a box of Arm & Hammer. Tradition! You can’t beat it.
Father Hubert awaited our attention for Christmas eve mass. We put on our itchy clothes, rode in the back seat while the old man weaved all over the road, lip-synced a bunch of nonsense at the church, and left.
Driving home from church, we looked out the window at all the homes, with the lights strung up, the blaring of fire engine sirens stirring the Christmas spirit inside our tiny souls.
After some rawhide-tough goose, soggy stuffing, and Campbell’s soup-enhanced vegetable matter, we retired to the den and opened one present apiece, killing one bit of hope in the process.
“More eggnog,” said the old man.
“Get it yourself,” said the old lady.
Happy fucking holidays to one and all. Christmas is all about Jesus, not your fucking presents. Got it? Good. Move along now. Nothing left to see here.