Crassmass in the antipodes is at the height of summer. I live in an idyllic little coastal village that looks just like the one in the original Jaws, creepily so. Just like it, it fills beyond bursting with obnoxious tourist droids same time each year. One of the few benefits of this influx of big city detritus is the large number of scantily clad, technically illegal, she-critters flowering into womanhood and doing everything they can to show it. I am content, even relieved, at having reached the stage approaching middle age where hormones no longer rule my life, so the unspoken "look but don't touch" rule doesn't really bother me. I also now have the wisdom to realise that anything more than looking would be ruined as soon as they open their mouths anyway. At this time of year the local girls, who are quite divine in their own right, are relatively easy to tell apart from the tourists. The tourists generally aren't pregnant. But all that aside, it is very aesthetically pleasing round about now.

Into this crassmassy babel I await the arrival of my brother, his gluten intolerant wife and kids. Of course, their arrival is merely the icing on the cake. The craziness of the festive spirit commenced some months ago. Like a snowflake that triggers an avalanche, the circus began with the idea of getting my niece a backyard playhouse for crassmass.

As luck would have it, the play house shop had outdoor BBQs on special - ours having long since rusted into unusability, so of course we bought one too. To prevent a similar fate befalling the new one, the only logical solution was to build a 30 square metre sundeck extension to the back of our house. This solution was so obvious that I am gobsmacked it didn't occur to me at all. A builder was sought and a quote obtained. The fee for "labourers" got rudely crossed off the itemised list of expenditure. Totally unnecessary - that's what I'm for apparently. The deck was built and as the builder wouldn't entrust me with any of his power tools, all there was left for me to do was carry the lumber and follow him around as he fitted things, hammering nails as he went. I estimate I pounded about 3,000 3 inch nails in the space of a few days. I still go to sleep at night with the noise of hammering in my head and my shoulder may never recover. I think I may have loosened a shard of bone in there somehow. The dull ache won't away and I keep getting sharp twinges whenever I stretch my arm.

Of course the deck required support beams to anchor it into the ground, which meant digging an awful lot of dirt up. Now that the deck was complete, something had to be done with the left over piles. Perfect opportunity to finally level out out the yard which sloped quite sharply into the bush behind our place. Two guys and a bobcat soon sorted that out. But that left us with a yard that was just dirt - not ideal for kids to be rolling around in. No problemo. Nothing two tonnes of fresh turf couldn't fix. Guess who got the pleasure of laying it ?

So this fucking playhouse is now up. And I know what will happen next -

a) my niece will probably tire of it after 30 minutes and never play in it again, and

b) Ms. Gluten-free will probably not let her play in it anyway for fear of heat prostration. Working inside the thing building it, I got a very good idea of what the punishment sweat boxes in places like Changi would have been like.

As for the festivities. All eating areas have now been demarcated into gluten and non-gluten areas. Pity the poor fool that may transgress the boundaries, they'll never hear the end of it. Only last crassmass I watched Ms. Gluten-free spread some butter on some steamed vegetables on the side of some perfectly roasted veal and sauteed wild mushrooms. Missy detected a breadcrumb in the butter - that was it, she scraped the whole plate off into the bin. "Contamination ! You can't understand unless you're a coeliac." Yes, she really is that bad. I bit my tongue and refrained from mentioning the thick, satanic, wheat saturated mushroom soy I had used in the barbecued pork ribs, which she ate without incident and declared pure and good. I know to stay silent and ignore. How much is in her mind and how much is real no one will ever know - though I have witnessed her more severe gluten reactions.

This is far from the most insane episode in the miasma of home brewed psychodrama anyway. There's plenty of 4 year old screaming tantrums to savour. I committed the ultimate attrocity as well last year during one of my nieces endurance tantrums. After about 30 minutes of wailing with the adults ignoring her, I waited until I caught her eye and calmy said "R., you know no one actually believes you..."

This switched the tantrum off like a light switch. My niece sat there open mouthed and stunned, before quietly standing and walking upstairs in silence. The parents were mortified. My brother went up in search of her and found her huddled in the back of one of the wardrobes. Of course I got a lecture about it. But it stopped the tantrum. And I suspect my niece will remember it in adult life and probably laugh with me about it at some point, probably even tell me I did the right thing.

No matter, I am now in full "I know I can't do anything right mode", ready for the siege and I have only one week to endure and then it's done until next year.

When I am dictator, I will ban December.

This is my crassmas. How is yours ?

Tags: MAKE IT STOP!!!, carmudgeon, christmas, crassmass, craziness, grouch, humbug, insanity, madness

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That was a way to shut her up. What a dreadful crassmas. Mine will hopefully be all about video games :)
felch, thank you so much. Makes me feel better to know that I'm not the only one whose family puts on an annual Dysyfunctional Family Xmess Follies. The diffference is that since my parents and grandparents are dead, I don't feel obligated to visit the rest on this most blessed messed day, and haven't since 1999.

I was, for the first time since childhood, sliding into this day in a fairly festive mood. For once, I didn't feel like swimming in a sea of alcohol, such swimming inspired by the neglect of my blood relatives and the obliviousness of "friends". Not that I would, mind you, as I realize livers aren't always the easiest things to replace.

Not having cable teevee, and not having climbed up on the roof to fix the old, abandoned antennna, and not having one of those converter boxes to make the magic box work (the magic box got fried by lightning anyhow), we don't get caught by the onslaught of exhortations to Buy Buy Buy! this time of year. I don't miss it. I used to work retail in what passed for a big box store in Vermont, before Mallwart wormed its way into the state. Working retail this time of year made me want to stab myself in the ears.

These days, many of my friends are gawdless, and most of the rest have the sense not to exhort me to sell-a-brate the baby cheeses' birth. The cohabi-tater and I stay home, stay in our pajamas (pajamas being a necessity in places with cold winters) until we feel like changing them, if we do. We play what music we like, eat what food we like, and go outside for a walk with the cats. It's quiet here, as everyone is home experiencing their Dysfunctional Family Xmess Follies. The neighbors across the field are gone to Florida with their yap machine, and its cold out, so the other neighbors won't have their yap machines out. Peace on earth, at least for one day.

We'll probably feed the wild birds, take a circuit of the field as far as the cats will go, and then come back inside to watch an episode of James Burke's "Connections". I found a new set online for about 1/3 of what it would usually cost, and was able to make the cohabi-tater very happy with it.

I've asked for a Star Trek style transporter. If I get it, I'm hoping to beam in friends next year. Want to join us? We don't enforce jolly here.
I am rather fond of this solution to tantrums -

In my zeal to vent this bile I neglected two of the best bits -

* My nephew is now old enough to walk more than 3 steps without falling over and has just enough reach to be able to snap the USB cables on my laptop. They joy of having to watch it like a hawk.

* The dinner discussions that relentlessly derail into reminiscences of other acquaintances and how well their children are doing and how they've finally bought a house and/or investment property - and by extension rubbing salt into the fact that I am a failure at both. No opportunity for this is ever missed and any protest on my behalf is futile. There is too much pleasure obtained from this for me to believe it is not premeditated any more. This is my crassmass gift and they just keep on giving it.
In the lead-up to the day, as many people in my world as possible accellerated every aspect of dysfunction that they could, doing their very best to force their drama, dysfunction, whining, fake offense, narcissistic me me me me me, onto the introverted, dramaphobic, geeky overanalytic peace-mongering takes-a-spider-outside-so-I-wont-have-to-kill-it guy who I am. My cervical radiculopathy started seizing up every time the phone rang or yet another offense&umbrage-addict came to my door.

Fortunately, this time no one tried to force their hospitality on me. Most of my biological family are dead or dying, and mother nature apparently forced upon the Midwest blizzard of biblical proportions (so I hear), so that I am unable to inflict airport crowds, loss of personal space, chaos, uber-bitch flight crews, near or actual-miss connections, long drives in psychotic traffic out of St. Louis and into the gottverboten hinterlands, and discomfort inflicted upon myself in my haj of guilt.

So instead, we went to a movie, puttered a little around the house, I did some homework, and cleaned up some memory-hog computer files. Not bad, really.

Felch, your story is truly sweet and lovely, and really should be next year's Hallmark BabyJesusBirthday Special. Your card is wonderful. Lets plan ahead for next year and make a BabyJesusInABun creche. Nah, probably already been done.
Well, let's see...since you fridge, furnice, dishwasher and hubby's car have all died. Daughter in California's jerk-face of a husband walked out leaving her with 3 daughters to feed and take care of and no job or prospects in sight. Daughter in Philadelphia got bad do you have to be to knock over a tanning salon? I'm recovering from H1N1. Hubby has had to go on insulin. And Oklahoma City got socked with 14.1 in of snow on Xmuss eve. That wouldn't have been so bad, but the granddaughters were visiting and got majorly whiny because I refused to brave the sleet, snow and 40 mph winds to take them shopping. Last but not least. $200.00+ dollars is missing out of our bank account.

Merry fucking xmuss, everyone.
Sorry to hear about your crummy time, regardless of the holiday aspect. Sometimes it really does feel like it all happens at once.
Thanks, Daniel.
Nice post.

I live in Aunty Adelaide,city of churches and bizarre murder capital of our great nation.

I managed to survive another family lunch by sticking to my well tested modus. I simply leave before first blood. This year I lasted until 3.30,which was approximately half way through the menu.

The youngest person was my 40 year old nephew. I was very good,I did not hit him once or call him a crunt.

This year's card was built around this cartoon:

The caption: "A Happy Humbuggery"

Too bad that wasn't published by some twisted, atheist version of Reader's Digest so I could have read it while trying to crap the delicious cheese fondue I ate with my family. Epic.

Of course, you realize food based reactions can be deadly, right. I mean - it seems a little suspect, what with the sauce on the ribs. But my brother turned into a non-green anaphylactic Incredible Hulk just because some turd of a waiter scraped mayonnaise off of a sandwich after serving it that way to my bro who told him he was deathly allergic when he ordered it and, very politely, asked for a new one.

Personally, the tantrum ending conversation seemed like an extremely reasonable approach to be applauded. No violence, trauma, or enabling. Nicely done.
Now the universe is laughing at me. In an act of black quantum sarcasm, my wireless card fried quite literally as the horde arrived. Now I won't even have the 'net to take refuge in - it will take at least a week for a replacement to get here. I'm sitting here in a 'net cafe sending modem logs and serial numbers to the vendor who is doing everything in there power to NOT give me a replacement unit. The smell of espresso, focaccia and sunscreen is overpowering and I can feel the glare of the tourists on my back waiting for me to get off this terminal so they can tweet about how fucking drunk they were last night, or how they nailed so and so.

Only 6 days to go...

Hang in there. Only 3 days remaining.
You certainly have a point.


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