Thursday, January 04, 2007

Redneck, White-trash Christmas

Now before you get upset at the use of the terms "redneck" and "white-trash", I understand that these can be inflammatory. For a writer, I am remarkably bereft of words. Let me tell you the story.

The kids were all due home this Christmas, Alex from college, Craig from the army, where he is posted at Fort Sill, and Kristen with her husband Paul, from California. Alex was home, Craig arrived on the 18th, having driven all night with a buddy from Fort Sill, after sleeping for a few hours, they took off to see the sights. They arrived late that night, then were out again the next day. The 20th began a blizzard with Craig and his buddy having spent the night with a friend of Craig after an "all night video tournament" which I took to mean they were drinking and didn't want to drive.

Craig came home that day ready to go get his sister from DIA. The blizzard made it certain that Kristen and Paul would spend their Christmas in California, with flights cancelled and travellers stranded all over. It also meant that Craig couldn't get out to pick up Zach, who had to spend the next couple of days with Craig's friend.

On the 22nd we began to be able to get around, but with four vehicles at our house, we could only drive one of them. The work truck with the rack and chains was the only one able to get around.

Anyway, when Craig got out that afternoon and went to go pick up Zach, somehow he had gotten from the far southeast side to the middle far west side. I didn't think a whole lot about it, just wondered how he would get there.

Christmas Eve everyone showed up for the last of the three services I was singing in. Christmas morning we started late, with everyone hanging around for our traditional Lucky Charms Christmas breakfast. I also made a double batch of Swedish pancakes. We ate, then opened our meager presents. Then we all prepared to go to our traditional Christmas movie. Craig and Zach were late enough that we had to switch to a later show. Then they took Alex home while Steve and I went to my parents. Later Craig and Zach also showed up at Mom and Dad's.

It was a nice day, but everyone was moping that Kristen couldn't come.

The following morning the guys were gone and I was kind of depressed with everyone's attitude, so I went to spend a little time at a friend's for a peaceful interlude. When I left, I checked my phone to find that I had missed about eight calls. Alex. Craig. Alex. Alex. Alex. Alex. Alex. Alex. So I called only to hear that Craig had been in a bad car accident and that he and all his passengers were in the ER at Memorial. He was okay but "banged up pretty badly", Zach was hurt and couldn't feel part of his feet. One of his passengers was a friend who was 8 months pregnant and was supposed to stay the night. Her 11-month-old son was the only uninjured party (a testament to good car seats!).

Craig having the most readily apparent wounds, and two of the passengers having masked their injuries with adrenalin rushes, they were late to begin treatment/assessment and he was the first to be released, so he came home to shower, change and head back to check on his passengers. About two blocks away he says, "Uh, Mom? There's something I have to tell you. Angel (the pregnant passenger with 11 month old) isn't just my friend. She's my wife."

I never read Amy Vanderbilt's proper etiquette for this situation, so I don't say much. I don't really believe it, yet part of me knows it's true. It explains so much. I'm having a heart attack; no, I'm hyperventilating; no, I'm just fine, just heartbroken and can't breathe. I'm crying, so he says, "This is why I didn't tell you...'cause of how you react." Excuse me?

What, pray tell, is the appropriate response? He shows me the wedding certificate and I see that they have been married since the day he arrived home. Hiding this for over a week! Living in my house, spending Christmas with us while he had a wife on the other side of town. Plus, he's married to a pregnant girl with a child, neither child is Craig's. What the hell? gets worse, but this is my redneck, white-trash Christmas. I don't know the child I bore, but I have a mental picture of him that I cannot get out of my mind. He's a little guy, walking around in a mock baseball shirt and shorts, hair combed neatly over and bright blue eyes looking up out of the mischievous, chubby-cheeked, smiling face. How did we get from there to here?

My son, who I've always felt was a bit behind the crowd in maturity is now married and the stepdad of two children. He doesn't have two nickels to rub together and now has all these responsibilities he cannot comprehend.

I'm sure there are better adjectives to describe these holidays, but I'm afraid you'll have to supply them for me. I'm plum out of words.