Monday, December 27, 2010

A Different Kind of Christmas Story

December 23 finds the family of Zach and Caitlin at the dinner table with their two children and Zach's father
munching on Pizzas. No cooking since tomorrow, Christmas Eve will be a big gala day or should I say night. Zach came from a large family and they all converge on their household Christmas Eve to exchange presents, eat, drink and catch up but for the most part make merry. Zach's father came to live with them after Zach's mother passed on. Caitlin wasn't so sure this would be a good situation since she regarded his father as a grumpy old man who got worse as he grew older. She really liked Zach's mother and often thought the wrong one went first. She could of seen her living with her mother-in-law, but her father-in-law? When they were discussing this arrangement Zach convinced her he could keep his Dad in tow and "What the hell, at his age this wouldn't last too long!". The last few years proved to be uneventful. Zach's Dad had a sort of perverse humor and sometimes this encouraged Zach to indulge in the same humor, much to Caitlin's chagrin. For the most part everybody was getting along, including his granddaughters who never payed much attention to anyone in the household anyway.They were enjoying their Pizzas and talking about nothing in particular when one of them brought up the loss of their dog, Abba Dabba. Shortly after Zach's father moved in Abba D.,as they called him, who wasn't feeling well but seemed OK for a sixteen old mutt, died. Zach's father was home with his oldest granddaughter and her current flame at the time. Between Zach and his father the remembrance went some thing like this; "The night before Abba D. was showing more life than ever running around and playing. The next day he was just moping around. He disappeared and Zach's father and his granddaughter found him, he was laying on his side with his tongue out, eyes open but not moving. They tried to lift his paw gingerly and it was motionless, just limp.", Abba D. was dead, stone cold dead in the market. When Zach told his part he was rolling over in laughter as he lifted his arm and let his hand droop as he stuck out his tongue to one side and drooled. Zach and his father were rolling over in laughter but Caitlin and her daughters seemed more confused as to what was so funny about losing their beloved Abba D. They finished eating and talked a little more.Then Zach's father bid everyone a good night as he ran and bolted up the stairs to his space to watch whatever sports might be on the air or a good sexy picture before he went to sleep.

Dec. 24, Zach and Caitlin spent this day getting the house in order and arranging for the food that would be served. They enlisted their Daughters, not without a struggle, they succumbed to Caitlin's orders after it became painfully obvious to them that they weren't going to get away with doing nothing this time by screwing up their chores , so they caved and helped. The day was a bright cold  Dec. day and the weather was going to hold up so it looked like every one was going to make it this Christmas Eve, a real houseful. Sometime around 4PM Caitlin asked Zach if he didn't think it strange that that they hadn't seen or heard from Zach's father yet? Zack said you know the old guy has peculiar habits and he's probably tying to get rest so he could over-indulge in wine and food tonight. By 4:30 she was whining that Zach should go and wake him up. Zach, with a sigh said OK and went to wake up his father. "Caitlin" Zach called, "Come up here for a sec.". She said she didn't want to intrude on his father and told Zach to go ahead and get him up. Zach pleaded and she went up. His father was laying in bed on his left side facing the door. Zach pointed out that he thought he looked a little peculiar, his head to one side and his mouth opened with his tongue hanging out on the pillar. "He reminds me of his description of Abba D. when he found him dead.", Zach uttered more to himself than to Caitlin. She was appalled that he would even think such a thing. They approached him, tried to wake him to no avail. Caitlin was getting panicky and Zach lifted up his father's arm which had no life to it and his hand drooped downward, "See just the way he said Abba D.'s paw was.". Caitlin started to cry, "He's dead." she whimpered. Zach said, "Yeah it sure looks that way." Caitlin wanted to call the police but Zach had other ideas. "Look, if we call the cops everything is off for tonight. All the kids, all my brothers and sisters, all upset their Christmas ruined! All the money we spent on the food and drinks; WASTED!!!" Caitlin said she thought he was terrible to even think of the money at this time and she said no matter what he wanted, she was going to call the police. As she started to leave the room Zach called out, "OK, but just remember this is going to blow tomorrow also. This means the big dinner for your folks, Father, Mother, Brothers, Sisters and your Aunts, all cancelled. Your family's Christmas, RUINED! How about that Caitlin?". Caitlin stopped in her tracks, "What are you suggesting?"  Zach was scrambling in his mind, after stalling a bit he suggested that they keep his father in bed, open all the windows and let the cold air keep him from stinking up the place with his dead body. They could lock the door and say that he went out someplace with his new flavor of the month. The heat would be turned up to combat the cold from the upstairs. After the Chrismas dinner, when everybody left THEN they could call the authorities. Caitlin was worried that they could get into trouble but Zach lied that he knew they were legally within their rights and after all it saved Chrismas for almost a hundred people. Caitlin didn't feel quite right about this but she always trusted Zach and even if he was wrong sometimes he was right many times also. On top of everything else she really looked forward to hosting the big Christmas dinner just so she could show her mom and sisters she was capable. So she agreed to the plan. The windows were opened wide and the cold air gushed in. The door was locked. Downstairs they turned up the heat and continued to prepare for the evening of fun and frolic.

Around 7:30PM the crowd began to arrive. Zach really enjoyed these family gatherings. He secretly felt far superior to his siblings and if the truth be told each one of the siblings felt far superior to the other. Growing up in a family largely populated by males where testosterone ran wild causing fierce competitiveness also affected the female members of the family. However, they used their wiles to get the best of the brothers. Having older brothers was a blessing and a curse. Most guys that dated them would never get out of line but many they liked were scared away by the hulking presence of males who let it be known that they would hunt them down if they came on too strong. Within an hour everybody had arrived, siblings with their children and their children's friends. Finally one of the guys asked Zach where, "Where's Pop?", to which Zach explained that Dad had to go out with his "flavor of the month" despite the fact that he really wanted to be with them. This caused a lot of laughter and some snide remarks about their father. One guy started up the stairs and Zach stopped him. "Hey, I just wanted to use Pop's bathroom, yours is full.". Zach thought fast and said that Dad had locked the door and he didn't have a key. Quite a few of the guests complained that it was quite drafty by the stairs and overly warm in other parts of the house. It was suggested that Zach do something about the house's uneven heating. Finally the presents were opened, the food eaten and the drinks drunk and the crowd left around 1AM. The guys had quite a few off colored remarks about their father being with another woman besides their mother. The girls took umbrage with this. From their childhood the guys vied for their mother's attention but the girls were Daddy's little girls and don't think they didn't play that to its fullest. After they left, Caitlin and Zach cleaned up and Caitlin let her fears about Zach's father being upstairs, "waiting". But Zach assured her that after Christmas dinner with her family the proper steps would be taken. So they went to bed tired yet somehow happy as they fell asleep.

Dec. 25, Christmas Day, found Zach and Caitlin's immediate family gathered around the Christmas tree exchanging presents from about 8:30 to 9:30AM when Caitlin declared the exchange time over because they had to get the place shaped up to greet her family for Christmas day celebration. This caused her two daughters to immediately disappear which Caitlin was thankful for since she wanted to talk to Zach about his father's condition. "Zach I could hardly sleep knowing that your father was upstairs in that cold room." Zach responded with a grin he tried to hide, "Honey, he doesn't feel a thing. Just hang on one more day. As soon as your family goes home I promise, we'll take care of  Dad.". So Caitlin busied herself with the preparations trying not to be preoccupied with her father-in-law's condition, so much so that she never realized her daughters managed to stay invisible while she and Zach did everything. Finally around 2PM Caitlin's family descended on their home seemingly all at once.

As with his family Zach felt quite superior to Caitlin's family. However the men in her family were humongous. Her father was the short one at 6'4", her brothers were all taller stretching all the way to almost 7 feet. Therefore Zach kept his superiority feelings quite subdued, "Why roil the waters?" he thought so long ago. He really liked the women in Caitlin's family and thought they were articulate, intelligent and attractive. All in all he enjoyed being with her family even if he felt compelled to keep some of his most provocative thoughts to himself in order to keep peace in the family and not to agitate those really large guys. The women drank wine while the guys had beer except for Caitlin's father who had Scotch Rocks. The meal went well with everyone enjoying the Ham, Turkey and Yams. The desert was sumptuous, Apple Pie with a scoop of the most delicious new ice cream flavor. Caitlin's mom asked where Zach's father was spending his Christmas day and while Caitlin phumferred, Zach said he was over one of his sisters house. Caitlin's father did insist that Zach should have his heating system checked since it was quite cold and drafty by the stairs going upstairs while the other parts of the house was hot and stuffy. Zach did what he always did when his father-in-law insisted he do something, he agreed and said he'd take care of it this coming week. The day was a success. The dinner went well. Everybody was happy and well fed and as quickly as they all appeared they all left around 8PM, all laughing and hugging. Very shortly after they left Caitlin and Zach's two daughters left saying they had a party waiting for them. As they left Caitlin reminded them of their curfew to which they nodded but had no intention of keeping. Finally Zach and Caitlin were alone with Zach's father upstairs.

Caitlin immediately got out the vacuum saying she didn't want the police to enter her house when it was a mess. They cleaned, washed the dishes and got the house ship-shape by 11PM. Caitlin told Zach he could now call the police. Zach hesitated and Caitlin whined that he promised he would take care of this matter as soon as their day was over. Zach put his arms around Caitlin and while he was caressing her he whispered, "Look honey, we are both exhausted. Despite some very trying circumstances this was a great Chrismas Eve and Day, perhaps the best we ever had. If I call the police now we are up until the early morning hours. What difference would it make if we got a good night's sleep then called? We would not only be well rested but we won't have to go to work. We'll probably be off the whole week. A gift I am sure my father would want us to have. So what do you say? Let's go to bed and take care of this slight problem tomorrow?" Caitlin was totally exhausted. She had no fight left in her. She agreed and went to bed without even washing up. As soon as she hit the pillow she was asleep. Zach climbed into bed next to her and slept back to back touching rear-ends which always felt just right to him. As he was drifting into the echo chamber that was between sleep and being awake, he thought; "Even though it cost me a fortune to heat the house these days it was worth it. Almost a hundred people having a real good time enjoying family, laughing and loving. Not bad! And my father never really liked holidays anyway. Just before he dropped into a deep sleep he heard a dog bark, his father's raucous laughter and voice saying, "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!.
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