Monday, January 4, 2010

11th Hate of Christmas: Orange County

     The 11th Hate of Christmas According to Heretic Gary C:

     The Boyf & I decide that for the first time in our thirteen years we're doing Christmas with both families together as a couple, and they can like it or lump it.  My family doesn't care either way.  His are wigged out but cave when I say it's both of us or neither of us, and since he's The Only Son (like Jesus!), they need him to complete their...something.  Did I mention they're Chinese?  Did I mention their parents were among the first Chinese converts to Seventh Day Adventist...ism ?  This weighs heavily.

     We agree to drive all over Southern California so no one has distance as an excuse.


     My family's first, so we leave Hollywood for The Orange Curtain.  I figured since my niece is living with Another Woman, this will be easy.  

     Wrong.  

     Another Woman has family: redneck family not particularly supportive of her "alternative" lifestyle and not shy about voicing their disapproval, even on Our Lord's Birthday (OLB), even with Christian Soft Rock fouling the airwaves.  I thought Redneck Bro and I were gonna have to have a special education session out back, but Sis stepped in and asked for peace on OLB, so we ate, made our excuses and left...

     ...up the packed 91 to Loma Linda -- Seventh Day Adventist central.  We're almost an hour late, and of course even though we said not to, they're holding dinner for us...except not really.  They're holding dinner for The Boyf, are absolutely gobsmacked that I showed up, and clearly don't know what to do with me.

     So we eat, rather quickly, even though we’re already stuffed, keeping the conversation to safe topics like the food.  We endure a desultory present exchange, during which I'm pretty much ignored, and then gather around the piano to sing carols.  (They've all had decades of musical instruction.)  Knowing what's coming, The Boyf disappears into the bathroom and does not come out again, for over an hour, so I'm stuck.  But, when God closes the [bathroom] door, he makes lemonade.  Or something.  I was in the choir in grade school and have a good memory for lyrics and other unimportant stuff, so I figure I can win them over with my singing.

     Wrong.  

     Even though they use caroling books (seriously, who has fucking caroling books?), they all know all the words to all the verses of everything, and they sing all the verses of everything.  I realize I'm lost somewhere around the fifth verse of "Adeste Fidelis."  Out of nowhere, they ask if I have a favorite carol.  I stammer "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."  After a LONG silence, Mom says, "We don't know any secular carols," in the same tone that she would have used if I’d just farted in church.  Uncle B. mercifully suggests something else, and they're off again.

     The Boyf finally surfaces, and we our excuses without mentioning that I have to work the next day, which for them is The Sabbath.  I had no idea, although it did explain why there was no ham.  They're not as strictly observant as the Jews who won't even turn on a light switch, but close.  The Sister, acting as hostess for the first time, realizes just how strict this is when we learn she isn't even allowed to clear the table, load the dishwasher, or wash the tablecloth because that's considered work, even though the same group (minus us) is coming back for lunch tomorrow.  The Boyf won't break Sabbath in front of the parents, so The Big White Guy winds up clearing the table, loading the dishwasher and starting the laundry just so we can get out of there guilt-free. (Apparently they have no problem with heathens working on The Sabbath.)  Sis will finish laundry, empty the dishwasher, and set the table overnight when her husband is asleep; he will not question this.

     The first thing we both said when we got in the car was "NEVER again!"