Wednesday, January 5, 2011


January 5, 2011

That’s it, then. The festivities have festered their last. The balloons hang flaccid on the walls, sad and wrinkled. Crumpled party hats and wrappings are stuffed in the bigol’ black plastic garbage sacks that lie crowded together outside the back door. With their yellow drawstrings drooping, they look like snoozing walruses.
There are nutshells and pine needles, tangerine pips and Lego blocks everywhere. And those infuriating bits of tinsel.
We’ve all filled our bellies to popping point and been thankful once again for this bounty, a portion of which is now embedded in the carpet, thanks to your cousin’s kid. He didn’t tell you about the mince pie and then the other little cherubs ground it in even deeper so that now a professional cleaning is required.
You had the Christmas. The meat, the puddings and pies, the constant glasses of good cheer that gave grim old Gran’ma the giggles. It’s all gone except the turkey sandwiches, curly now and dry. Surplus, like those last relatives who’ve taken root on the couch.
One of them found that special bottle of eggnog you’d stashed away; and how smug you felt at selecting such a foxy hiding place behind the dog’s bed. Yet the thieving so-and-so drank it dry and tossed the empty in amongst the walruses.
But the strange creation Aunt Brenda brought is still there. Ominously and defiantly centered on the sideboard. Some bigol’ pale-fawn-colored object with luminous specks, allegedly food, although it could have been a dead manatee. Nobody knew for sure and therefore no-one dared approach it. Not even after she’d had a first forkful to demonstrate its scrumptiousness and made some exaggerated lip-smackin’ sounds.
Just before she took ill, that is, and Uncle Jim had to drive her home.
She’d made that beige mass from scratch, she enthused. Scratch is something I, personally, don’t like food to be made of. For one thing I’m sure you get fleas in scratch - ask any dog - and then you spend the rest of the day picking the critters out of your teeth.
Yes the guilt is there. I’m sure that was a whole sheep sandwich I wolfed down last week. It did taste a bit woolly – could it have been one of Brenda’s culinary creations?
After two days Little Johnny’s bigol’ plastic monster macho alien-blasting submachine gun had already lost its rat-tat-tat. Then Gramps stumbled in his Christmas slippers because they were two sizes too big, and crushed it.
Other little angels are wailing that their toys stopped working. The radio controls keep interfering with each other’s plastic racers and Gramps’ hearing aid. They girls are fighting over whose Bratz doll is the most bratty.
Unwrapped newly-gifted socks and ties lie abandoned. At full volume, hefty Aunt Hettie reminds Uncle Norm – and everyone - that he knew very well what her favorite perfume was and this isn’t it.
The guy across the street wasn’t invited again. He left his colored lights on – those flashing, chasing, jingling ones that outline his house and end up in a scintillating burst of Santa-and-the-reindeer sculpture on his front lawn. Right under your bedroom window, forcing you, as in every year, to hang heavy drapes to get some shuteye. Once more it will be February before this uber-celebrant eventually switches them off. And February before the hospital staff take off their inflatable antlers.
But you’ll still be finding specks of glitter in the house. You swear that tinfoil stuff actually reproduces.
The stores are selling off plastic Christmas baubles at a fraction of the price now. That local politician left the homeless shelter the instant he knew he’d be on TV, flashing that great big phony political smile like the front of a 1954 Chevy Bel Air...
At least we’re out in the country. In the big city, especially my native London, where The Season is one entire drunken month of office parties, you’d be wading through the streets knee deep in secretary vomit. Okay, I’m exaggerating.
But here in Walton County you’re glad this festive period is over so now you can look forward to not having to deal with it all for another 11 months when that other Christmas – the Thanksgiving one - rolls around.
That said, I regret having just oinked my way through that last chunk of ham, although, in mitigation, it was only part of the grand end-of-year pig-out.
And now it’s New Year’s. Our cheap new Chinese cuckoo clock just cackled midnight in an accent that I swear was Vulture. Wifey unearthed an old bottle of
French “laughing water” and some plastic Christmas mugs.
So, after a swift 2011 toast and a hasty glug, it’s toss the last of those turkey-and-tinsel sandwiches onto the bigol’ plastic walrus pile and off to bed.


© 2011 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.