The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

November 27, 2007

GAK! And it's only November



Bing Crosby is back with his Christmas crooning at WalMart..."It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas."

They plant that thought in our minds, which in super-conglomerate-speak is a subliminal code song to consumers to "don't think, just spend, spend, spend."

And they plant it earlier every year and then fertilize and water beyond belief.

It's like a switch they turn on with the non-stop ads, music and everything else, triggering some device they've surgically inserted in our heads that gets us to comply.

The plastic green and red festive decor crawls along like man-eating vines at the liquor store, in the 7-Eleven, in every mall, stretching its tentacles out to grab us and gobble us up in a buying orgy of outlandish proportions.

And we follow, like the lemmings we are, jumping off a cliff into a sea of debt below, victims of our own need and desire to give so our loved ones will feel good and falling into the trap of consumerism that haunts us everywhere we go.

But everybody knows that. This post, actually, is supposed to be about Christmas and the extended family and my own early encounter with it this year.

And how one of my three sisters, who aptly calls herself "The Big Organizer," made my tiny brain explode on its own long before I've even thought about what I'm going to buy anyone for Christmas.

While I was out of town recently, this sister, who I love dearly, sent out an email to me, our two other sisters and my one brother who lives close enough to us to be part of our annual family Christmas get-together.

In it, she used complicated mathematics principles and theories to detail, in terms I could not understand but which Einstein or others might; four scenarios for buying our collective nine offspring Christmas gifts.

The first email was titled "Christmas Shenanigans." It was about 400 words long.

I gave up about one-third of the way into it when she broke down the spending ratios in a Pythagorean formula that looked something like this:

9 x $40.00 + $8.00 for the one couple that has three as opposed to two kids, divided by the circumference of Pluto minus the 12 beers and 82 bags of chips without any peanut additives WW is assigned to bring=WW's amount owing.

The second email was entitled "More Shenanigans." It further confused me with more mind-numbing possibilities but fortunately, did not attempt to address peace in the Middle East or why I am still single.

The third had a subject line titled "Oops, bossy L has contradicted herself." I didn't even open it.

And yet a fourth was titled, "Extra Xmas Info."

Nowhere have any of these emails stated where this Boxing Day Bedlam is going to occur -- I'm assuming it's at her place -- but that's besides the point.

I'll just buy each of my two kids a $40 gift, wrap them as best I can, label them "from your aunts and uncles," write my sister a cheque in the amount of either $18 or $1,800, whatever she wants, bring the case of beer and truckload of peanut-free chips and show up.

I love being part of a big family. When you get all of us together for any sort of celebration, it's nothing but fun and kidding around and bedlam and bad jokes and the kind of teasing we did as kids.

When it's at Christmas, there's an air of added excitement.

There's the wonder and unbridled happiness of the kids (age range about 12-23) anticipating the loot they're going to get, the almost ho-hum hilarity involving all us siblings, and the presence of our mom and dad to tie it all together.

There's the chatting, the mingling of generations, the joking, the dinner to which we all contribute (some, like me, a lot less than others), the dessert and then, finally, the mass opening of presents, from youngest to oldest.

For our family, it's a very special time, despite all my rants about what Christmas has become in the larger world of consumerism and buy, buy, buy.

We might have fallen victim to its vise-like grip and allure, but that doesn't make it any less compelling a time to give and to be together, and that is the most important thing of all.


  1. It must have been utterly frightening to receive thsoe emails :).We go to my granny's place -she's not really in much of a state, healthwise, to deal with so many people but while there's still a breath in her body The Show Must go On.

  2. I agree about the commercialism and consumerism though I have to admit that I have been doing my shopping already (almost done, matter of fact).

    I like Christmas and family reunions but not the big ones where I don't know half the people. Yours sounds like lots of fun.

  3. Lee:

    Actually, I loved those emails. The fact she cares so much and takes it upon herself means everything...

    Like you said, the show must go on...and if it wasn't for her organizing things, it might not...


    Hey girl, nice to see you popping in.

    We all do our shopping. This wasn't to criticize but just to say that this is what we are.

    My Christmas family thing is fun and I wouldn't miss it for the world.


  4. Of course your head hurts! It's 20 below and your sister's organisation is Nasa-like.
    But you will enjoy yourself on the day!

  5. Keep you head at home when you venture out. That way you can prevent a lot less hurt.

    *running away*

  6. Excellent rant ..even though you turtled in the end and tried to give it a feel-good ending.

    First of all Disney's depiction of Lemmings hurling themselves off of a cliff is false. Even though they won an Oscar for the film it was discovered that the film crew chased those poor little bastards over the edge...

    much like Cashmas drives me over the edge. As you know, I f%#@&%g loathe Crisismass and all of the grief and guilt that it represents. From the naivety story all the way down to the Coke sponsored rendering of 'Satan' Claus.

    As a society we deserve it (and we deserve to get it good and hard) because we, as consumers, have become "Ho-Ho-Ho's", consumer/drone/slaves, blindly following this retailer's wet dream since the postwar Baby Boom.

    Now, like your metaphorical Lemmings, we are freefalling into the abyss. The only way to stop it is to opt out and stop buying..
    which will send our economy into a tailspin far worse than we could ever imagine...but perhaps that is what we need to do to make everybody pull their heads out of their butts.


  7. Dinahmow:

    You're right. I just do whatever my sisters tell me to do...they give me all the simpleton tasks...

    It IS cold here. And some creep cut the plug-in thingy on my car's engine block heater cord, so I can't plug it in.

    I can only hope it starts...


    You'd better run away!!! Actually, you're bang on. One of my mom's sayings when I grew up was:

    "You'd forget your head if it wasn't screwed on to your neck" or something like that.

    I would, too.


    I know about the lemmings thing, you goof, but it still works as a metaphor.

    And I didn't wimp out at the end. The end was the point of the post and all the stuff before it was the obvious rant I had to make.

    Despite it all, when it comes down to the day itself with my family, none of that stuff matters.

    That's the point.

  8. Oh.

    Hey I bet that all of your bossy sisters are on Facebook..I went back on yesterday to check up on my kids (saw your daughter's page) in the spirit of giving you should start one up, takes about 5 minutes, then send them all Christmas widget presents that they can't open until Christmas..what fun.

    Aside from the sheer pleasure of spying on everyone this glorified e-mail thingamabob will open your eyes to the data mining jackpot that the marketing departments of huge conglomerates have discovered.
    C'mon..everybody's doin' it...
    although I did shut mine down again after 6 hours.

  9. I have a sister like that - I have been issued with the puddings this year - DOESN'T SHE KNOW ME AT ALL?? - we'll all probably be in the general hospital for new year then with ecoli or some such thing.

  10. can I come to your instead? It sounds great and I can do beer and nuts!

  11. Homely:

    I do have a Facebook page, but I've only been to it once and I signed up only to see my daughter's, who (gasp) has her pic and everything on there.

    I gave her hell and then she gave me hell back for having my blog and putting her on it, so apparently I stand corrected.

    I doubt that my sisters have their own Facebook pages but I bet all of our kids do.

    Maybe I'll check mine out and do the shenanigans you're talking about with Christmas widgets...or worse.


    Ha Ha Ha!!! Well, at least they're sympathetic to my singleness and maleness and don't insist I bring an horse doovruhs or something.

    They always give me the easy jobs but add their little jabs here and there, asserting their feminine superiority or whatever it is...

    E-coli would be better than ebola, I'll send you a pudding recipe.

    And of course you can come to our get-together, although you'll have to fly on your own broomstick.

    And I'm taking care of the beer and nuts. Maybe you could bring along some pudding and wine.

  12. This year should be the first really nice Christmas since I stopped believing in Santa. We'll be seeing my parents before Christmas, then spending Christmas itself gloriously alone (just Aidan and myself at home, lovely!). Boxing Day will be a family get-together with Aidan's side of the family, and this his parents have planned something for us but I won't say anything because it's a surprise for Aidan! :)

  13. I wasn't going to mention it... but that purple cardigan is NOT COOL. Give it to Vinnies for Christmas or something, homeless people don't need to look nice! hehe

  14. Stace:

    Hey, sounds like you and Aidan have a fantastic Christmas ahead of you. Email me with details of the surprise!

    Whatever, just enjoy it.

    And that's not ME with that brutal purple cardigan! It's some pic I pulled off the Web!

    I would never wear a cardigan, for starters, and I can't think of one purple thing I own...

    But thanks for knowing you can be honest...

  15. Ohhh, I'm on facebook. It's where all the cool bored people hang out and give each other free imaginary drinks, so they can all get imaginarily drunk and smash their heads into imaginary pool tables.

  16. ho ho ho funny post! :):)

    btw WW plz read my comment-reply to ya in my blog. tnxx!


  17. I know it's not you, my comment was intended for HE! haha

  18. oh my friggin word that was hysterical!!!
    its odd for me, this year- being from a big family too- that for the first time in a few years we'll be scattered all over the place and aren't having a big family get together...
    can damien and i come and join you- i'll bring beer...?

  19. Awa:

    And so do you have imaginary fun? I guess free drinks are always a good thing, imaginary or not...


    Ho Ho Ho yourself...

    I've seen your response to my comment, thx.


    Thank God for that, because he actually does wear that kind of stuff.

    You should have seen him last night, showing up here in big black winter clodhopper boots, snowmobile pants and oversized winter parka...


    Of course you and Danien can join us but as I told Ziggi, I'm already bringing the beer.

    How about some nice South African wine and a snack?

  20. Hahaha, very funny post :-) So far, and I don't think it's wise but it feels wonderful, I have made a seperation in my mind between the christmas season feeling and the have-to's (esp. presents and organizing), in this respect that I don't think about the have-to's, yet.
    I am afraid that we in Europe are catching up fast with the "exaggerated" commercial part of christmas (read : shopping).

  21. Hildegarde:

    I think if you can make that separation, you're well ahead of most of the planet.

    For some reason, I would have assumed that Europeans would be less likely to fall for the crass commercialism of Christmas.

    Have fun. :-)

  22. I always have imaginary fun with the imaginary people in my head. Didn'tcha know!? :)

  23. Do a post on the 8 year old Hockey playas clearing the bench in 'Off'tario..
    I'm too tired. C'mon hurry up I wanna read it when I get up tomorrow.

  24. oh good idea! i'll bring the biltong and a divine pinotage or six!

  25. Awa:

    I guess if I didn't before, I do now...


    I've thought about it. Maybe this weekend.


    What's biltong?

    I guess I could google it.

  26. Angel:

    Aww, garsh, I'm so embarrassed...I'm blushing...

    But thanks!

    Now if only I can put that salut on my blog somewhere, being the computer techno-nerd I am...


  27. Haha! I love the way your sister thinks. Those emails sound like they could have been written by me. And your family get-togethers sound like a blast! I always love reading your family posts.

    Now go shopping! ;)

  28. Anna:

    Gak! And I have all three of my sisters here! Woe is me they've all discovered emailing...

    They're all bossy in their own ways, but they treat me like gold, so I can't complain.

    We have fun at these things, for sure, and now we have all these nieces and nephews to tease.

    Shopping? What's shopping? Not til Dec. 24...


If you choose to use anonymous to comment, it is only fair that I reserve the right to obliterate your comment from my blog.