Friday, December 30, 2011

A Christmas fit for the Griswolds

Some of the 11 people we had filling our apartment.
Daily News column for Dec. 30.

A Christmas fit for the Griswolds

Decorations, lights and the sounds of Christmas movies filled our tiny apartment. Each saucer was in its proper place, vegetables were stacked neatly on a tray and even the dog's hair bow was clipped in the exact center of her head. It looked as though I had planned a perfect Christmas.

For the first time in my family's history, we would not be celebrating at Grandma and Grandpa's house, but five hours from their home, in my apartment, which I share with my male counterpart and our two dogs.

Feeling the pressure to live up to Christmases past, I aimed for the best, a Christmas even Clark Griswold would be proud of.

After spraying a quick mist of peppermint scented spray through the apartment, I stood waiting, ready to greet my guests — all 9 of them, and one dog.

It was perfect — until the phone rang.

"What do you mean you're on I-70," I shouted into my iPhone.

Somehow, my family had let the one vehicle without a GPS unit take the lead, and they were more than a bit off course.

I had given specific directions prior to their departure from the hotel. "You go right down … through town, take a left on … , and a right on … " It was that easy.

What my mother heard was "take a right on … and travel west on the interstate."

Once their course was righted, my hopes for a perfect Christmas were restored.

That is until my aunt, uncle and two cousins showed up. They were the first guests to arrive, luckily without an RV. But as they plopped their boxes, bags and coats and dove into the vegetable dip, my hysteria kicked in.

Before I could place their coats on the rack or add their gifts to the Jenga-like stack under the tree, the others arrived.

Gifts overflowed into the hallway, Grandpa tripped over a dog and The Man started drinking before dinner. Things had gone awry in a hurry.

As I scrambled to serve up some soup with what dignity I had left, another dog scared Grandma by jumping into her lap unexpectedly and broke her wine glass.

A few hours later, boxes everywhere, wrapping paper strung from room to room, the smell of burnt soup throughout, my hopes for a perfect Christmas were gone like the bottles of rum and wine that littered the counter.

Instead, we were living a Christmas to remember.

The scramble to purchase a plunger at midnight is something that I will choose to forget.

—Megan Tilk is a reporter who also writes a weekly column for the Boonville Daily News. She can be reached at or through her blog:

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