Sunday, December 25, 2011

Angry Nerd Family Christmas Dinners

   Christmas dinner in the Angry Nerd family is, like with many families, a time-honored tradition. Growing up, we used to have dinner at Grandma's, with plenty of down-home meals, music, and occasionally a lively spat as entertainment. After I got married and had kids, my new family would rotate where we ate Christmas dinners; the plan was always to eat dinner with one family, and then just stop by to see the other. The invariable annual consequence to this plan, however, was tension over how much time we spent at each place. At some point, we solved this problem by hosting both sides of our family at our house for dinner - which freed us up to have other things to argue about...

   Nowadays, Christmas dinner is much more harmonious. For the last several years we have gathered at my sister and brother-in-law's place, and without my babymama's combative, slightly crazy family dynamic in the mix, things go much more smoothly (not that we don't have some of our elements of craziness and combativeness in our midst, but, for those folks in was an in-bred thing, kind of like with Native Americans and the alcoholism gene).

   Actually, for us, Christmas begins at Thanksgiving. Several years ago, we decided that the adults in the family would do a Secret Santa-thingy so that we would only need buy a gift for one other adult in the family. My mother is in charge of this whole operation, and with her, it is a matter a national importance that those names get drawn out of the hat post-Thanksgiving meal. Remember Rev. Harold Camping, the nut that predicted not one, but two incorrect dates for the end of the world this year? Well, I knew he had it wrong all along; the end of the world will come the day after someone in the family leaves Thanksgiving dinner without picking a name for Secret that doesn't mean that we won't try to leave without picking a name - or at least pretend to, mainly since getting my mother annoyed and flustered is a favorite pasttime for my siblings and I (and to be honest, it's kind of a cheap thrill, since she's so easy to fluster and so prone to falling for the same stuff no matter how many times we try it).

   Back to Christmas dinner - it's always a fun affair when the Angry Nerd clan gets together, especially at Christmas time. Plenty of laughter, teasing, eating, drinking (mostly non-alcoholic stuff), sports watching (with plenty of debates and trash-talking about the action), and the like. My brother, the camera buff, takes plenty of pictures - the more embarassing the better. At some point after dinner, someone will let out a rip-roaring, mouth-uncovered belch. Half of the other people will be grossed out by this; the other half will express their admiration, and hand out grades for the belch, prompting both indignation from the grossed-out crew, and attempts (on the sly) from the admiring crew to try to work up their own monster belches in an effort to beat the original monster belch (note: this activity does NOT apply to farting. You gotta fart, take it to the bathroom or an unoccupied room - or in the case of my brother - all the way outside the house).
   Video games are a must, especially now that there are the dance games are popular. They're a particularly effective tool for working up a sweat and for making fools of oneself! Then there's also the annual "Battle of the Sexes" game of spades featuring my sister-in-law and cousin versus my nephew and myself. Most years it works out pretty much according to script: a lot of woofing initiated by my nephew, responded to with some caterwauling from the ladies (I, of course, maintain a modicum of restraint and good sportsmanship). Then, once the game begins, the ladies employ their tortoise and hare strategy, where they place safe, wussy bids throughout, while the two of us knuckleheads inevitably do ourselves in with a series of testosterone-induced overbidding, leading to such spectacular self-destruction that the ladies barely have to break a sweat...sigh...getting trash-talked by a couple of persistent women is a hurtful thing...

   But spades humiliation aside, there's nothing quite like the Angry Nerd family Christmas dinners. They are truly what makes Christmas for me. Well, time to go; I hear my nephew woofing about spades. Hope you all are having a great Christmas!

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