Cracker by Damian Christie

9

Christmas Cracker (I've been waiting all year for that one)

Family Christmases can be hard at the best of times. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family. And I love the fact that I’m not an orphan, either legally or self-imposed by being stranded somewhere like London in the midst of an OE. But there’s something about being in close proximity to one’s parents for more than a few hours that turns one into a grumpy teenager again. Something about hearing all those stories that just seem so full of irrelevant detail and without any point

By the time we get to my aunt and uncle’s house for Christmas though, it’s all good. Extended relatives arrive. Every year someone seems to be newly missing a fingertip or limb or eye (on a good year it’s not unlike the Bounty Hunter bar on Tatooine, or a collection of Mister Potato Heads slowly losing their parts).

Traditionally half the family disappear out the back for a cheeky smoke while the other half stay round the front and pretend they haven’t noticed half the party is missing.

But this year was different. This year two of my cousins chose Christmas Day to get engaged.

Not to each other, obviously. I mean, the whanau might be missing a few limbs here and there, but we do still have standards. Nor are we Moonies. No, by complete coincidence, two of my cousins (a brother and sister) proposed and were proposed to respectively, on exactly the same day. Completing the hat-trick was their cousin (my cousin’s cousin, not my brother, sister or myself, clearly.)

It’s an odd relationship isn’t it, the cousin’s-cousin? You see the cousin’s-cousin at every family function, but to the best of my knowledge, you’re not related as such, unless there’s some “second cousin once removed by marriage” or something. Anyone?

With everyone else already engaged, married and or with child, my middle sister hiding in London and my twenty-year-old cousin still safely “too young”, all eyes focused on me. Apart from those made out of glass. But it was like a scene from Dawn of the Dead when the Zombies realise there’s living flesh amongst them and they start walking slowly towards him… Anything I wanted to announce? Anyone I had waiting in the car I’d quite like them to meet? I knew that Civil Unions were legal now didn’t I, joked one uncle (homosexual humour is still de rigueur at the Cracker Family Christmas). “No pressure” they laughed. Time and time again.

I pretended I was going back for a second helping of pavlova and quietly climbed out the kitchen window. Sis, if you’re reading this, next year I’ll be joining you in London for Christmas.

This will be the last Cracker for 2006. In a couple of days' time I’m off to New York and Mexico for snowfights and diving respectively, back in a month. I may post some pics from over there, but I may simply be having too much fun to bother :)

Happy Holidays everyone!

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