A Wacky Christmas

The Christmas season is that time of year when our families gather around us. We love our families, but sometimes it’s terrifying when we see people who share our genes – the genetics and the kind you wear – acting the way they do. I’m goofy, whacky, some have called me a little strange, a little bizarre; you can’t make it as a humourist if you don’t have these qualities. But my siblings take whacky to a whole new level. Standing beside them I appear to be calm and collected, slightly sedated.

Every Christmas Eve, my siblings and their children come over to our house for our annual Christmas bash. We tell them to come at noon, so that way they’ll show up around quarter to six, bearing platters of Christmas cheer, and grinning from ear to ear. The next thing you know, the Callaway Effect takes over. I’m not sure you have this in your family, but I’ll explain what it looks like in ours:

“Take one Callaway and place them in a room on their own, and you will find them to be calm, collected, respectable. Their IQ will be respectable. Place a second Callaway in that room, and both Callaways and their IQs will be divided in half, and interesting behaviours will be exhibited. Such as—but not limited to—loud noises, loud giggling, animal impressions, and arm flapping. Insert a third Callaway, and the situation deteriorates further. You may observe snorts, wheezes, armpit noises, and one might begin imitating politicians. With the addition of each successive Callaway, things slide further downhill. When the tenth Callaway enters the room, someone would be swinging from a chandelier if we had one, and the rest might be pelting him with cutlery.” Plastic cutlery, but nonetheless it’s a terrifying thing to behold.

The only way to stop such pandemonium is to pray a quick prayer of thanks and feed them from the endless buffet, the laying on of dinner. We spare no time sidling up to the trough and filling our plates. My golden chicken wings, uncle Dan’s shrimp ring, my wife’s fresh lefsa, aunty Lynn’s Christmas pudding containing a hidden almond. The one who receives this almond wins a box of chocolates. Lynn explains these rules every year, as if for the first time. And we laugh all the harder. One year someone filled the pudding with a handful of almonds. Soon everyone was lining up for chocolates.

After the family cannot move from eating, we settle down for games and tales of Christmas past. Like the time my dear conservative Grandfather drank a whole bottle of cough syrup, unaware of its high alcohol content. “Grampa, you’re drunk” we tried to tell him. “A skunk?” he replied in a slightly slurred voice. “Where?” Then he just started to snore. We shared about presents and childhood memories. The sweet anticipation of that magical morning when we hoped that all of our dreams would come true.

Then my nephew Michael climbs up the chandelier, and we quickly bring out dessert before things get out of hand. Well, as whacky as they are, I love these people. We don’t always agree, but I wouldn’t trade ‘em for any other family in the world. Unless that family was rich. No. But I’m usually quite content to usher them out of the house at around 11, so we can clean the Christmas pudding off the walls.

You know, we can’t choose our relatives, but we can choose to love them. That love is what we celebrate at Christmas time. The love of our Saviour, who stooped from Heaven’s glory to love us despite our cracks, our wrinkles and our sin. He gave up his position in heaven and became a helpless human baby so that we could be part of His family. 1 John 3:1(NIV) says: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” Because of what Jesus did for you and me, by grace through faith we are part of God’s family. Hey, it’s a whacky family. We’re a little like manure, spread us out, we do a lotta good. Pile us up and whooey! But it’s the best family ever.

Whatever you face, I hope you’ll surround yourself with people you love, and if things start to get out of hand, hide the cough syrup, and maybe the chandelier too. Merry Christmas.

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Phil Callaway

Phil Callaway, the host of Laugh Again, is an award-winning author and speaker, known worldwide for his humorous yet perceptive look at life.

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