So I planned on posting this a month ago, but between Christmas and Skyrim, my time simply disappeared. I did manage another chapter of Brigid and the Goblin, which I had started long ago for my cousin. Take a gander at it in the Stories section above. In the meantime, enjoy this totally honest account of the Holidays in the Murphey house . . . .
I scan through the rest of the videos on the bookshelf; my brothers shout from the hallway and suddenly the whole house shudders. Four large teenage boys thunder into the room, shaking the room and tumbling several dusty picture frames.
“I win!” Kevin cries, plopping down one of the sofas. A tide of popcorn spills from the lip of a white bowl, yet my brother’s quick to react, plucking he unfortunate victims of speed and inertia from the throw-rug before the five-second rule can claim their buttered bodies. The other boys continue to wrestle over the remaining seats, while Kevin packs another kernel mouth-ward.
Mom’s collection of ‘antique’ sofas retains the texture and softness of stadium bleachers; ergo the fight for sole possession of the Laziboys proves intense. Ryan pulls Shannon from the chair, ripping his shirt. Shannon wastes little time to recover. While Ryan makes for the armrest, Shannon grabs his brother’s ankle, tripping him. The Christmas tree shudders again, light reflected from ornaments dance across the walls; Mom screams threats from the kitchen. Launching himself off Ryan’s prone body Shannon lands between layers of packed cotton, leather, and one neatly folded Christmas blanket with a satisfied sigh.
“. . . A Christmas Story, Elf, Home Alone . . . both of them,” I continue, “uh . . . Wonderful Life, Holiday Inn, White Christmas, the Grinch . . .”
“Cartoon or Jim Cary?” Shannon asks, folding the blanket around his legs. Ryan, not one for revenge, smiles graciously to the victor and deposits himself on the floor, gesturing for Kevin’s popcorn bowl.
“Uh . . . Jim Cary.”
“Nah!” Ryan mumbles, mouth swollen with kernels.
“Let’s see . . . we have the Muppets Christmas Carol . . .”
“Ooo . . .” Shannon cooed.
“No,” Mom complained, walking into the room. “I’m not watching anything with Muppets.”
Now this is inexcusable . . . not entirely unexpected from a mother of eight, brain besotted by decades of Fraggle Rock, Bugs Bunny and Animaniacs. Nevertheless, entirely without excuse.
“. . . and Die Hard.”
“Done!” Shannon cheers. Ryan and Kevin simply raise their fists in the air, a non-verbal sign of solidarity to all things John McClain. Mother’s face, however, took on that exasperated pale of Alice finding herself surrounded by tea-drinking madmen.
“Mom,” Kevin whined, “it is a Christmas movie!”
“Ho, ho ho and yippee-ki-yay mother—”
“Ryan Murphey, if you finish that sentence,” Mom shouts, hands clutching her hips, “you will get nothing for Christmas. No DVDS, no video games, none of those stupid holiday sweaters you love so much. You will get NOTHING!”
“Well, I’ll just buy my . . .”
“‘Cause you will be dead. I will rip that profanity-laden tongue from your mouth and stuff it so far down your mouth that you’ll forever onward swear and crap from the same orifice.”
“Oh . . .”
“Speaking of which, is anyone in the mood for a horror flick,” Shannon suggests. “Slay bells, maybe?”
“No gore, watch your Die Hard,” Mom sighed. “I’ll be in the other room on my computer.”
“Guys,” I chide my brother. “Mom, stay! We’ll watch something you like. There’s got to be something here that everyone will enjoy.”
“Hey there’s a Christmas marathon on the Hallmark channel,” Bree announces excitedly from the next room. “Mistletoe Over Manhattan is on next.”
“Ooo,” Mom smiles. “That sounds good!”
“Soooooo . . .,” I say, “Die Hard, guys?”
The male population nods in general agreement. Most of Hallmark’s Christmas movies – and well let’s face it their entire programming schedule – prove pretty unpalatable much like chocolate-covered candy canes. My brother once compared its collected Yule classics to cinematic electro-shock therapy, inducing gritted teeth, dull lifeless expressions, and a perennial drool.
“You guys are so mean to your mother,” Mom tuts grabbing her computer.
“Sorry Mom,” Shannon explains. “But those Hallmark movies are so. . . so . . . Help me out guys!”
“Bane of the neuronal synapse?”
“Yeah, something like that,” I shrug. “How about White Christmas? Now that’s a classic, plus no German bandits!”
“How is that better?” Shannon mutters from his chair.
“Casablanca then,” I sigh. “Lots of Germans. Nazis too. C’mon Mom we . . .”
“That’s not really a Christmas movie,” Kevin whines.
“No, Casablanca is a wild card,” Ryan postulates. “Can be played anywhere or anytime . . . Christmas, Easter, Veteran’s Day, Valentine’s Day. The movie’s that good.”
“Absolutely! Rent a white tuxedo, pour some bourbon, and spend the rest of the year trying to become that badass once again.”
“Or . . .” I look at my brothers. “We could . . . watch your Hallmark show . . . a little.”
Silence reigns for several minutes. Mom stares into our souls, contemplating whether to leave or to stay and watch us suffer. Brigid giggled from the other room as a jaded young woman finally finds the spirit of the Holidays thanks to the love of her family, a kind-hearted begger, and the contrivances of a very mischievous Mrs. Claus. Inwardly the whole male population of the house collectively groans in pain.
“Nah,” Mom sighs. “You boys have fun.”
“Wow dodged that bullet,” Kevin whispers as Mom closes the door.
“Hans!” Ryan screams. “Bring on Hans! Yippee-ki-yay mother-&%$@er!” Well, after that, Mom promptly came in and changed the channel. Language like that would not be uttered in her house. All the boys, every single one, endured two straight hours of tripe storytelling and damaged relationships repaired through faith, family, and fictional symbols of the Holidays. We all fell asleep that night dreaming of sugar-plums and German bandits, who found the spirit of Christmas through faith and song. I didn’t sleep a wink.
And so Yippee-ki-yay, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Yeark to you all as well.