Oh, tomorrow will be Hell. Absolute Hell.
Christmas with the people I fear above all others.
So here is how it will go:
Pre-dawn. Laura crawls out of bed and dresses, knowing that whatever she wears and no matter how clear (or not) her skin is, she will be looked up and down and found wanting. If I have worked out, I will be called fat. If I have proven myself academically, I will be told to get a job and move out. If I wear a beautiful sock, knitted by me, I will be told that somehow it is unattractive to Them.
8:00 a.m. Laura gets into the car. She sits in the back, whips out a sock and knits her way to Elkhart. Along the way, Dad recieves two or three phone calls demanding to know why he is so late, despite the fact that our arrival time is set for noon.
Noon. We pull into the driveway. She asks us why we are here so early. He told us noon, she said five. She has a Hair Appointment and has to be gone by 2:30. She won't reschedule. Or cancel. Christmas and the family can wait. We sit on spotless furniture in a room copied peice by peice from a decorating magazine.
12:30 p.m. We eat around the tiny kitchen table, knowing that we are not worth the use of the dining room, which would only afford us a little more leg room. But we do not deserve that. Food is eaten. Dessert. Coffee dispersed. We sit until our backs begin to seize up, as She tells us about dead relatives and their miserable ends, dispairs about her health, and demands to know the particulars of Laura's life, which She will passive-aggressively tear apart.
2:00 p.m. We all sit carefully in a circle. Gifts are handed out. One by one, beginning with the eldest, the gifts are unwrapped. A picture is taken of each person with their present after it is opened. No one unwraps anything prior to anyone else. No one rushes anyone else. Smiles are, of course, optional.
2:30 p.m. She goes to her hair appointment, either forcing Dad to drive her or Him. The rest of us wait in the house or the salon.
4:00 p.m. Leftovers are dispersed, eaten, and someone falls asleep on a chair. Paul has long retreated to the TV room to watch Spike marathons of Star Trek and James Bond. I knit.
Time Unknown. Dad, complete with Furrow, decides that the time is right to flee. He drives in complete silence. We do not dare disturb him. Arriving home, we each find a corner of the house to sulk in. Laura flees to Jennifer's house for peace.
The family will, depending on the severity of Her behavior, suffer depressed emotions and increased anxiety anywhere from days to weeks to months, or, in the incidence of last Christmas, a year.
Last Christmas She criticised my mother for being away. She said Mom should have been here instead of with her father. She thought She was more important, even though Grandpa needed Mom to be with him, since Grandma had just died. She thought Grandpa needed to prioritize and realize that we needed to have Christmas together. She wanted to be Entertained. She insulted my mother then, to my face. And I have not forgiven her. I am physiologically unable to handle that task.