An excerpt from "Christmas Eve From Hell",
an essay from Josie's new book Chicago Boomer:
After Thanksgiving Dinner we all started making plans for Christopher’s first Christmas and from my mother-in-law’s trembling lower lip I could tell that we had rapidly entered into a danger zone. You see, Christopher’s first Christmas was also my mother-in-law’s first Christmas as a grandmother so this meant that she had been buying First Grandchild ornaments and other presents since before Halloween and had fully intended to spend the entire holiday glued to the baby’s side. We knew this and since we lived very close to her it hadn’t been a problem until my father, who was totally oblivious to the anxiety around the table, invited us over to his house on Christmas Eve so that he could spend HIS first Christmas as a grandfather in HIS childhood home.
Things were awkward for a few moments until Nicholas, emboldened by this perfectly executed Thanksgiving Dinner, came to the rescue and said that he thought that the best solution would be to spend Christopher’s first Christmas Eve with both families under one roof. Upon further discussion it was decided that since my father had just lost his mother and had inherited his childhood home, it would be a meaningful gesture to have my grandmother’s first great-grandchild spend his first Christmas Eve in her home even though she was gone. This could be accomplished if we could get Greg’s sister, his brother and his brother’s wife to come out to Lansing to spend Christmas Eve with us.
My face was going “Awesome! That would be so nice!” While my mind was saying “Fat fucking chance y’all.”
But then the unexpected happened...
My mother-in-law demurely folded her napkin in her lap and quietly said that she was sure she could convince them to come. Startled, I looked at my infant son in his high chair and for the first time realized the power he held in his miniature, sometimes shit smeared body. And because I was the mother of this mini-human, my own power seemed to have risen considerably as well. I felt flush with excitement because of this new development and wanted another baby immediately. Apparently, if I had ten kids I could rule Greg’s family forever. I suddenly understood my Aunt Charlotte’s power.
By the time we left to go to the Black Friday sales that started on Thanksgiving night it seemed as if our holiday plans were settled: Both sides of Christopher’s family would spend Christmas Eve together in my dad's family home. Norman Rockwell, right?