free hit counter Snacks, please!: All around the Christmas tree, part 1

Friday, December 14, 2007

All around the Christmas tree, part 1

I love Christmas! And I love, love Christmas trees. But, most of all, I love, love, love MY Christmas tree! A visitor to our house once said, "Oh! You have a memento tree!" I had never heard it described as such, but I guess that's right. I like an ornament that tells a story.

Here's one:

After David and I had been dating for a few months, waaay back at the turn of the century, he invited himself to my family's house in Connecticut for Christmas. I thought not. "I don't want the children getting too attached to you," I said. (Nice, huh?) But he persisted, as is his way, saying he could combine the family gig with a semi-Jewish ski trip to Vermont. And, I thought, ohhhhkay.

We expected him to arrive on Christmas afternoon and, of course, there was a little frisson in the air. Mary Ellen's new boyfriend is coming!! That kind of thing. Ack! Then snow started to fall and we wondered if he'd ever make it... Finally, a knock at the door. Rush, rush! My sister beat me to the punch, as is her way, but, BUT, BUT!! It was not David!

It was the girl from two houses down. And her baby. And her boyfriend.

Oh, where to begin??

The family from two houses down moved into the neighborhood when I was around 11 or 12, I think. Before they actually moved in, we had heard that they were Italian and they had lots of kids. And I remember thinking, "Oh, great! I bet they'll be really jolly. Oh, I hope there's a girl my age! We'll be best friends, like Trixie Belden and Honey!

As if! They were nuts! The screaming, oh my Lord. The screaming. The summer was the worst because we didn't have air-conditioning and it was like that crazy mother was shrieking inside our kitchen. (The father was a school custodian, and it occurs to me now that he could be my union brother!)

There was no girl my age. The oldest was a boy and he was at least a few years younger than me -- and, since he eventually was arrested for sexual assault of a minor, it was probably a good thing that we never hit it off. The youngest must have been 5, "Christopherrrr!!," and he clearly was his mother's favorite. She never wanted to hear much about the fires that he set in the neighborhood, like the one on the front seat of my grandmother's car. (Not the smartest of kids, he used his signed homework paper as kindling...)

They were not nice people. We knew it. The people between us CERTAINLY knew it. And then the whole world knew it when the mother was arrested for stealing dozens of toys from a Toys for Tots drop-off point.

Anyway, back to Christmas, the girl from two houses down must have been in her early 20s when she showed up in the snow. She rushed into the house, boyfriend and baby in tow, and says, "Mrs. F., can I use your phone? My mother and I are fighting and I can't stay in the house with her. I swear, I'm going to lose my temper -- and then I know I'm going to lose my baby again!"

At this point, my father disappears into the cellar, as is his way, and my mother and sister provide some wide-eyed sympathy. A few half-hearted phone calls later, it is clear that nobody is available to pick them up and drive them home through the snow. It's Christmas! Sooo, it is decided (probably by my sister) that my brother-in-law will do the job. Of course. They even have a car seat for the baby! Amongst much well-wishing, they all go back into the snow.

And that's when my mother leans against the kitchen counter and says, with a funny little look in her eyes, "So, she's out of jail." And we say, "Whaaaa?! What was she in jail for?" My father re-emerges. "Well, I think it was attempted murder, isn't that right, John?"

"Maaaa! You sent Seth off with a murderess?!"

Sadly, I can't remember all of the details -- but I think she was trying to kill the mother of the father of her baby, or maybe one of his other girlfriends? And then maybe it was complicated by murderous letters that she sent from jail? (Again, they weren't the smartest of kids...)

Another knock at the door. Oh no! Is it the crazy mother??

Wary, we open it. It's David!!

Aaaand, he's wearing what appears to be a hand-dyed batik silk scarf! And, even more...uh, interesting...a red beret??!

I still tease him, "Remember when you came to my parents' house wearing a red beret?" And then I add, "That was the Christmas when we sent Seth off with a murderess."


Anonymous Stacey S said...

And I thought Sean the drug dealer was a bad neighbor. He got GRILLZ for Christmas. So sparkly.

Nicely written. Happy holidays to you and the family from drought-stricken Palm Beach County, where it's raining.

December 14, 2007 at 1:55 PM  
Blogger Mary Ellen said...

Hey Stacey!
Glad to hear from you! Hope things are well down there...
Mary Ellen

December 17, 2007 at 11:04 AM  

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