Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Germans Ate My Brain

We don't spend much time with my family because I have six brothers and sisters who have kids of their own and it's hard to make time for all of us to get together. When we do get together, it's usually for a group birthday lunch on a Sunday afternoon. My parents come down from their mountain, grumble about traffic, mix stiff drinks, ask you how you're doing and hustle back home. It's not a thrilling love fest. It usually annoys me a great deal, in fact. But I try to go because it's family and that's what you're supposed to do, right? I mean, a couple of hours once every three or four months: I can do that.

Grinch doesn't go to my family gatherings because...well, my family is a group of loud, TV watching, back-slapping, mostly insane people and Grinch's family is a very proper German mom and dad sitting in silk chairs, asking about your life plan, offering you Very Expensive Scotch and making sure you know that it's Very Expensive Scotch.

I'm almost glad that Grinch doesn't go to my family parties because I just end up worrying that someone will upset him or ignore him or say something embarrassing or stupid. He frets over the noise and how it might affect the bug and whether or not she's going to catch a cold or toddler Ebola from one of her cousins. It's stressful and I end up worrying so much about Grinch that I don't get to talk to my sisters, which is the best part of going to these stupid parties anyway.

So Grinch just doesn't come. I tell the truth: he's cleaning the house, he's working, he's studying, he's whatever. That's cool. Everyone in my family is used to not seeing Grinch at a party. It would be surprising if he actually came to one. "Grinch! What are you doing here?!"

But there's no skipping a Grinch family party for me. No way. The crowd is too small. Your absence is noted and many questions are asked. There is great concern, conferences are held and phone calls are made. Attendance, you see, is mandatory.

Grinch's family doesn't get together much, only because his siblings are living in different states or countries. So when everyone is in town at the same time, well, Gott im Himmel, everyone is there and every gesegnet moment must be spent together. YES! Es ist ein Auftrag!

So now you know how I spent my New Year's week. It's a good thing I had the week off work because if I hadn't I would be either cata-fucking-tonic right now, in labor, in the psychiatric ward, or on a one-way flight to Maui. Actually, the last one doesn't sound so bad. Where's my credit card?

I came up with a fun game this week: when a German asks you about your plans for the week, tell them, "I don't know. It's the holidays. I'm just going to relax and see what happens." They can't process it. The information just hangs in front of their eyes, like hard-core pornography. They're usually stunned into silence, except for the occasional, "But....but..."

Really though, I like my brothers-in-law and their families an awful lot. One of their little girls is nine-months-older than the Bug and it was great to see them have so much fun together. They're all very kind and considerate and it was nice to see them again. We may not see some of them again for a couple of years and that makes me sad.

Now everyone has gone home and it's just us and the tribal elders, silk chairs and overpriced scotch again. I'm going to miss the holidays for some reasons...and be glad they're gone for other reasons.

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