Holiday Visit

Once again, it’s the time of year when families get together. A time of year I sometimes dread. I love my family, it’s just that strange things happen. Let’s look at last year at Christmas, for instance.There I was, minding my business, when my wife said we were going to her folks for Christmas. We were to leave a few days early, and stay a few days after. She had lots of cousins that were planning to stop by, she said. I could feel the hair on the back of my neck start to prickle.We got there early, and since my father-in-law burns wood, he naturally needed some help from his sons-in-law in getting wood to burn. Trouble was, it was in the woods.So, Marvin and I walked out in the woods with a couple of borrowed chain saws to start cutting. Then we walked back. The chain saws wouldn’t start. After a few carefully chosen words and some tweaking, we got one running. We went back in the woods and dutifully cut down some dead trees.Christmas time in Minnesota is cold, so we spent most of the evening thawing out. Early the next morning we were going to use the power take-off on the old tractor to cut the trees into wood stove size chunks. At least that was our plan. Several hours into the afternoon, we were still trying to start the tractor.Marvin got a little agitated and started waving his arms around and talking in a high-pitched voice. He had our father-in-law perched on the old tractor of the neighbor’s that he was going to pull with his car so that we could pull the other old tractor, so we could start up the saw and cut the wood. My father-in-law, in all his wisdom sat up on that tractor saying, “This ain’t going to work. This ain’t going to work.”While Marvin was busy I went over to the tractor and looked at that little valve on the gas line. “Is this supposed to be turned this way?” I asked. My father-in-law gave me the “don’t say a word” look and turned it the right way. Then the tractor started.Now, the cousins were beginning to arrive. I noticed one set in particular. The very loud cousins, who always know how I should be doing things. I was thinking about running into the woods when they saw me. So, I went on into the house with my arm around my wife. I whispered, “This is going to be some Christmas,” to her and then looked up and saw my wife already in the house. Turns out, I was going in with another cousin. I jerked my arm off so fast that I hurt her neck.The affluent ones showed up with a new snow mobile. They insisted on taking my father-in-law for a ride. He seemed ready for it. But, when they came back he looked a little peculiar. It seems that when they spilled him on a tight turn, he lost his dentures in a snow bank.Meanwhile, we were opening some presents. My sister-in-law had to show us her new bottle of expensive perfume. She took the lid off and was having everyone smell it. It got closer to me and when I took a whiff I sneezed causing the bottle to slip from my hands and break on the floor of the kitchen. I jumped back, naturally to avoid having any perfume get on me and knocked the hot pot of spiced apple cider onto the floor.Later than night, as I tried to sleep amidst the sticky cider, holding my nose, in an old sleeping bag on the floor, I tried to think of a tactful way to tell my wife, maybe next time I’d be better off home alone.