Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Patriarch

As patriarch of your family, how did your manage Christmas?

Patriarchism is not what it is cracked up to be, especially when I find that my rules and edicts are met with rolling eyes and ignored.

Does this make you angry?

No. It simply means that I needed to redefine my patriarchal duties. I just switched from an Event Instigator to Event Observer.

For example: I was explaining the meaning of sharing with my granddaughter after watching a tussle over a toy with my grandson. I carefully, and with great wisdom, explained how wonderful sharing was. As an example, if she were to reach into her mother's purse and get some money, she could then share it with me and then she would see how wonderful it was.

I think four year old Madison H. (she was called 'Madi' until one day she proclaimed that her name was not Madi anymore but 'Madison H.') grasped the concept until her eavesdropping snooping mother piped in. "Your grandfather is getting old and senile and sometimes gets confused about what he says."

And your thoughts about this?

I need to wait until her mother is out of the room before explaining life concepts to her daughter.

How did you influence the family Christmas festivities?

I think it was my presence that set the tone. My son Terrence and his wife Evelyn hosted the family celebration, and did a bang-up job. I wanted to coordinate things a bit, but there were so many people, and three almost four-year old kids scurrying dizzily around, and so much food, and every time I started to issue an edict, someone would stuff food in my mouth. There was so much going on with family-people refusing to stay in one place, and camera flashes blinding me, and someone shouting to another on the other side of the room, and Christmas carols playing from somewhere, and food, and more food, and one of the grand-kids identifying a present for her under the glorious tree and she snuck in and opened it even before it was present-opening time. Really a lot of random things going on.

That is when I figured observing was my best patriarchal move. So I sat in a rocking chair with a plate in my hand and munched and observed. I found then that people would come up to me instead of having to chase someone hither and fro. They didn't curtsy or bow or anything, but I figure maybe I could fix that by next Christmas.

Who was there?

Oh Lord -- I don't know where all these family people came from. I think we have taken this procreating thing too seriously. Aside from the lovely Marilyn and I, there were the hosts, my son Terrence and his wife, Evelyn, their son Audei....and Evelyn's daughter, the beautiful Bessy, and her beau, Sean, who understands my position within the family because he was always at my side offering to help. Then there was my wife's daughter (who I think should be a model) Lindsey -- who makes the best cookies in the world and I have proclaimed her the Family Baker -- and her husband, Michael Shane, looking debonair in his fedora, and his daughter, the once shy and tentative Brittany, who has blossomed into a dynamic beauty. My wife's son George and his almost four year-old daughter, Gracie, was there but he doesn't know his place because once when I stood up he sat in my rocking chair. My ex-wife, Myriam, the mother of Terrence and Elleana, who is also my friend was there. My daughter, the effervescent and lovely, Elleana, and her husband, the lawerly and intelligent Michael and of course, their daughter Madison H. was there. The always lovely Catherine is Michael's daughter and I always think that she is 20 years old and am always stunned when I realize that she is only fifteen. I think that is all -- I get confused about all these people.

Sarah, Michael's niece, and her boyfriend, Jesse, weren't there due to car trouble. I think she is a spy anyway.

A spy?

Well, think about it. She just showed up mysteriously into the family a few months ago. There was some vague talk about her being the daughter of Michael's sister or something like that which sounds like the perfect cover. I mean one day we were Sarah-less, and the next day Sarah was in the family. Sounds fishy to me. And to top it off, she is beautiful so everyone accepts her -- my family has a thing for beauty. I've seen movies about this -- a woman uses her beauty to ingratiate herself into a group...then boom! When I found out she wasn't going to be there I started looking under the sofa and behind the bookcase for a bomb.

I think her boyfriend Jesse is her 'handler'.

The fact that they sent us gifts on Christmas day makes me even more suspicious. And it is hard to make me suspicious because I like them. I have to be on guard.

I see. Well since you didn't get blown up what are your general observations about Christmas with your family?

Well, Christmas is supposed to be the celebration of Christ's birth, which I used to have a problem with. I mean, we all know that Christ wasn't born on December 25th and the whole celebratory concept was co-opted from a Pagan festival, so I took the skeptical view that the whole thing should be more of a secular holiday. But as I became more wise and tolerant, I began to think differently, or maybe one could say, rationalize more. We don't know when Christ was born. So we pick a day and celebrate -- and does it matter today how that day was picked?

Now in my feeble mind ripe with imagination, I can imagine Christ sitting up there with his elbow on his knee and his chin in his hand looking at all this thinking, 'A party in my name. I guess that's pretty cool. Whatever. But I like the part where families get together and share and laugh and have fun together. That is important. But all those lights -- that's a little crazy.'

So being with family is important to you?

Absolutely. With all the craziness and bedlam and lack of rules and procedures, which I am going to work on for next year, they are fun to observe and be with. And when you observe, as a Patriarch is supposed to do, you see a wisp of love floating in and out and around...sorta' like a gentle mist. Perfect.

It is most satisfying to be the Patriarch of my family.


  1. ya might as well, can the rules thingy. lol but glad to see you had a good time. Ya did ya know.. 'cause I did too. Happy New Year.

  2. Where, oh where, do some of these people come from? We have a couple that have just seemed to pop into the family, like Sarah. It's quite befuddling.

    I think you are such an optimist if you believe that you'll get them to follow the rules next year. But hey, you never know. Christmas is a time for miracles.

  3. Yes Sir, Sitting back and watching is most satisfying because as you pointed out you actually see and enjoy more this way, being with family is what it is all about and it appears you have found a way to enjoy them all.

  4. This was hilarious Jerry! What a great story!
    We have five kids and assorted families, so our house was always a zoo on both Christmas eve and Christmas. My wife always seemed to find things for me to do. This greatly cut into my observing, eating and drinking time. This year we started have "Christmas" at one of our daughter's house. I actually got to sit in a chair and totally relax for once. I liked it! The best part, was no mess to clean up!!!

  5. What delightful chaos and I admire your bravery to entertain two wives. My sister did that with her two husbands and somehow, it works.
    I love the idea of steadily feeding the patriarch to keep him passive. Great idea.
    Sounds like a wonderful day Jerry.

  6. This is the second year that we didn't go to a big family celebration for Christmas--we just stayed home and did stuff by ourselves. I like the idea of being here on Christmas morning, but this post made me sad that I wasn't in a big bustling house full of people! Oh well. Maybe next year.

  7. How wonderful that you can get it all done in one big family gathering - and even more of a blessing that you all get along! This was a wonderful read - it was almost like being there, like being the spy myself?? lol :) We get our Christmas done on 6 separate occasions since both our parents are divorced and not quite sociable, which is well enough... but what would it be like to have all of them at one place on the same day and time?? It would be chaos I am sure and we would need the whole weekend just to say hello to everyone I think! It was wonderful though this year, I must say. Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement and for the wishes sent my way - I hope yours is blessed beyond measure as well and filled with all the love and happiness you can handle! It has been a great pleasure finding this blog of yours and I thoroughly enjoy reading it! Have a Happy New Year!

  8. And you sound like the most perfect patriarch imaginable! Lucky family, all of you, to have such a gathering. Glad you enjoyed, glad you had plenty of good food, and wishing you all the best in the upcoming year!

  9. My father-in-law sat in his chair with a paperback novel in his lap and let the world come to him. And it did, because he, like you, was a real draw. Please tell Madison H that my daughter also had an H appended to her name, albeit when she was in 2nd grade and not pre-school. Just as you had to relinquish control, she's learning the same lesson at a tender age. Sounds like she is taking it well, just like her grandfather.

    Thanks for letting me sit in on your visit.

  10. As father to 3 daughters, my husband can feel your pain when it comes to the eye rolls when trying to assert patriarchal authority.

    And I feel the same way about my way too large family. Where did all these people come from? I have 6 siblings and all of their families and most of the time, my house on Christmas looks like Macy's after Christmas sale.

  11. There's so much that deserves to be said about this marvelous, humorous, and astoundingly true piece of writing, but I'm going to have to cop out and simply mention how much it made me grin. And think. And sit back all satisfied and whatnot afterward.

    Lovely article.

  12. Thanks for making me smile Jerry..the interview format worked a treat..wait and they will follow! Thanks for stopping by..Jae

  13. jerry from gently said!! thank you for stopping by my blog. tb speaks so highly of you on hers. i feel honored! :]


  14. I'm lovin' the spy angle. Sadly we have no one to be suspicious of there are so few of 'us' left if a stranger did show up we'd probably chain him to a chair and force him to stay. And tell us new stories. Of his mysterious life....

    Sounds like a blast and a good time was had by all. Happy New Year.


  15. Happy New Year dear Jerry, may 2011 be a great year indeed.;)