Ken Cormier
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CHRISTMAS WITH GRANDMA


The last time we had Christmas with Grandma she just about puked, four Manhattans, three gin and tonics, a whole six pack of Schlitz, cheese, crackers, pickles, meatballs, chicken livers wrapped in bacon, and Uncle Steve shouting at the blank T.V. screen the whole time, NOW WE GOT IT! THIS TIME ITS OURS! THEY MAY HAVE WON A COUPLE BATTLES, BUT WE GOT THE WHOLE WAR! and Grandma just leaning on the arm rest of our big brown couch, drooling, lifting a drink to her mouth, dragging off a Chesterfield, nodding her head back and forth, he's stupid, this one, you're stupid, you got no brain, the TV's not even turned on, you're shell shocked, you're crazy, you're no son of mine until you get yourself together you hear me? and Uncle Steve ripping his eyes away from the screen, grabbing a liver bacon hors d'oeuvre by the decorative, green cellophane-wrapped-at-the-end toothpick that sticks through it, and he bites down on the liver bacon hors d'oeuvre, ripping off the end of the decorative, green cellophane-wrapped-at-the-end toothpick and he spits the whole thing at Grandma who moves quickly and deflects the liver bacon hors d'oeuvre with the open palm of her right hand, being careful not to spill even one drop of her gin and tonic, and in one smooth motion she pokes Uncle Steve's left eye, sending him screaming into the kitchen.

Suddenly I hear Mom shrieking THE TURKEY'S DONE, SOUP'S ON, DINNER'S READY, COME AND GET IT, and I run to my place at the table, sitting, waiting for the squash, potatoes, string bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and oh the turkey, what a huge, malformed thing that Mom brings in and sets on the table and Auntie Rita starts poking it with her fork from the other side of the table just to scare little cousin Suzie who's five years old and has nightmares about food coming alive and killing her, and Auntie Rita laughs and pokes the thing so it looks like it's shaking and trembling and inching its way toward little Suzie and Suzie gets a wide eyed look and grabs the edge of the table cloth and screams in a high pitched frequency and she pulls the table cloth and her plate and milk glass and my plate and milk glass get jerked into the air and come crashing down on the floor and Grandma says, Stop that, Rita, Stop that this instant, I'll have none of this nonsense at the Thanksgiving table, and Uncle Steve, still dabbing at his swollen left eye says, IT'S CHRISTMAS, MA, NOT THANKSGIVING, IT'S CHRISTMAS!