We were sitting around, doing nothing except trading stories of Irritating Family Christmas Traditions.
Munoz and Galindo had nothing to contribute, as Christmas Eve in Miami is celebrated (at least in their families) with huge pitchers of sangria and a slightly tipsy midnight Mass. Porchevsky likewise spent thirty years in the USSR keeping his Christmas traditions under wraps--and Possible Detention By The KGB is past irritating and on into scary. The one Jew in the room, a neurological oncology resident from Israel, was ignoring us and reading the paper. That left only the American nominal Christians to complain.
Becka started: "My mother makes us watch 'A Christmas Story' every year on Christmas Eve. I hate that movie. It annoys me. The business about 'You'll shoot your eye out' makes me pray every year that the kid actually does have some horrible accident and has to spend the rest of the movie in the hospital."
"You think that's bad?" responded James. "My family refuses to acknowledge that I'm gay, and I keep getting books on how to meet women, and free subscriptions to online dating services." He slumped in his chair. "The worst was when the family brought three different girls to meet me at Christmas dinner. They probably hoped I'd marry one of them by New Year's."
I knew I had the ace in the hole, so I waited until everyone else was finished, then cleared my throat.
"My father," I began, "has collected over thirty different singing, dancing, light- and motion-sensitive Christmas decorations."
The room was silent except for the scrape of the neuro resident turning pages.
"Every room in the house, and some of the closets, are fucking deathtraps. If you go into the bathroom on the ground floor, there's a wreath that sings to you. The kitchen is inhabited by a plastic Christmas tree that sings and dances and *tells jokes*. You can't cross the living room without something starting to whirr, click, and recite 'A Visit From Saint Nicholas.'"
"The only thing they lack is a dancing Menorah that sings 'Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel.'" I finished.
The neuro resident looked up from his paper and fixed me with a stern eye. "That is *not* Kosher," he said. "Hannukah is for making donuts and lighting candles. It is not about dancing Menorahs. Besides," he finished with a wail, "I HATE THAT SONG!!"
"No disrespect meant," I said, "But you have to admit that a toy fat guy in a red suit kicking his feet as he hangs out of the chimney isn't exactly embodying the spirit of Christmas, either."
"In fact," I said, struck by a sudden thought, "The only thing my folks lack, besides a dancing Menorah, is a Nativity scene in which the Virgin sings 'Papa, Don't Preach.'"*
That did it. Everybody, including the neuro resident, collapsed laughing, and then we all had some donuts.
Happy Holidays, everybody. Whether you spend it drinking sangria, praying in an onion-domed church, dancing around a fire, or eating potatoes in various forms, I hope it's a good one.
*I post this thought with some trepidation. I'm sure Dad will start looking for a singing Nativity now.