Family are, quite frankly, a nightmare. ARGH! I'm so unaccustomed to spending so much time surrounded by so many people. And to survive in my family, you need to have a good set of lungs and vocal chords, and be prepared to use them. Grandma (the finger of blame is firmly pointed in her direction) has gone the opposite way of late - she now whispers to be heard, so we all have to be quiet and pay attention. I, meanwhile, just go silent and then have to put up with everyone saying "are you okay?!" etc for the next two days.
Yes I'm fine, thank you very much, I just like my surrounding set to 80dbs instead of 180!
I'm hereforthwith officially promising my unborn children that they will always have their own rooms, that visitors will be made to stay in the study and that extra (especially single) visitors will be plonked unceremoniously on the couch.
I remember Leigh telling me that people in Canada kept offering her and Jo the master bedroom. I can't imagine how unbearably uncomfortable that would make me, I feel a right heel for having 'stolen' (no matter how temporarily) Lucy's bedroom, thereby displacing her to Joel's room and Joel to the floor at the foot of his parents bed. For heaven's sake, I spend most of the nigth on the couch (watching telly - ah...bliss) ANYway, i may as well just sleep there!
So turns out Rowland hasn't been reading any of the blog lately: he's one of the readers who dropped off after 'the shift'. *sigh* I should've just paid and stayed shouldn't I? Ah well...it DOES mean I can gossip about him to my hearts content. It was lovely to see both him and Julia yesterday - I really like my brother, and his girlfriend's delightful too. And, typically, he and I were the last up, watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The film was brilliant, and prompted the question "would you live the most PERFECT year if you knew at the end of it your memory would be wiped and you'd go back to a normal existance?".
For the record, I would ("you're still LIVING it for the year!!") and Rowland wouldn't ("you'd have no MEMORY of it!"). Funnily enough, it didn't occur to him that when you have a DAMNED good night out - you live it and don't always remember all of it the next day!
Yesterday I was woken by a text message PRIOR to the 'up-and-down-stairs-running-child-yelling-"THIS IS THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER!"' (cute in writing...) and this morning I was woken by pigeons (or some such) that think they are owls. They're still twit-twooing out there...it's most peculiar. There's also a bird that goes "skeeeet, skeeet!" in a piercing yet raspy warble. Don't know what birds do in Prague- other than die! (the only one I've seen close to home was dead on the pathway).
One of the most amusing and slightly disturbing things about our family are the similarities. So, when I walked into Dee's house the other day (she's my Mum's sister for those playing the trivia game: Nomes' LifeTM) the first thing I noticed was the "Go placidly..." framed poem on the wall in the hallway (Desiderata for the less literate!). Why the women of this family even entertain the idea of doing ANYTHING placidly, I'm not at all sure, it's certainly not a characteristic we're reknowned for! I think this is one of those "Do as I say, not as I do!" things.
Then, turn the corner into Dees living room and there's the photo of Grandma and Jack (I never met him, calling him Grandpa seems odd - so he's Jack to me) getting married - it's a black and white photo that was touched up with colour (her lipstick, the stems of her bouquet and his handkerchief I think). These are things that I associate with my mother's house not someone else's. Very twilight zone. She's also got a set of the chiming table angels on her shelf!!!
Christmas was a gluttonous event, with a great big box of Cadbury's Roses (ta Grandma, that'll get me my 9000 calories in NO time at all), so many toys it's not funny, an exchange of DVD's (ta Rowls & Julia for my The Long Way Round set), more chocolate, far too much wine before 3pm (which meant some of us were less than enthusiastic about the constant stream of visitors), some nibbles (including chocolate), more wine and generally, well, gluttony!
Apart from the fact I
a) didn't get Joel anything (he's got so much I wouldn't know where to begin - so Cheryl allowed me to give him one of the stocking gifts),
b) I gave Cheryl (without pierced ears) earrings (thank goodness I also gave her a pashmina!) and
c) Lilian and Reg can't read their Czech calendar (oh for heaven's sake, the NUMBERS are the same!!!)
I think I did reasonably well. Lucie put on her red necklace immediately - which is always reassuring - and Alison said thanks and then opened the next present. I, too, wore most of my presents: jewelry from Cheryl, a silk scarf from Grandma and the wrapping ribbon from the Calendar from Mum: which went around my ankle - only to be totally forgotten and have to stay around my ankle, damp, after my shower on Boxing Day. Note to self for next year: don't wear wrapping decorations. Oh - and I got a toblerone too. I'm going to have to start liking them aren't I?
After a rather welcome and huge spread (roast beef with all trimmings) in the evening, and more wine consumption, I just HAD to get SOME form of exercise. So Lucie joined me on a stroll around the suburb. Unfortunately neither of us had a light, so I knocked on someone else's door, apologised for disturbing them, wished them a merry Christmas and then cheekily requested a light! :) Lucie was suitably horrified/impressed. She was less perturbed when I pointed out the likelihood that it was the most 'bizarre' thing that would have happened to them all day, and they'll be telling their mates about it for two weeks. Enter the spirit of the Christmas Bitch!
I'm really worried about my Lucie. She's 16 and completely directionless. She's incredibly astute, which means - in typical Hilder women fashion - she knows exactly which buttons to push to wind her mother up. Cheryl always takes the bait, gets angry, forces Lucy into a fight (which admittedly, Lucie led her mother into), and then there's some screaming, some frowning, some stomping and a door slams somewhere. It's awful to see them snipe at each other constantly, and I'm sure that their relationship woudl improve if Lucie moved out. Thing is, for an incredibly smart girl, she's set on making her life difficult for herself, by not getting her GCSE's, working in reception at a local hotel and illegally hanging out at nightclubs drinking to excess. Remind you of anyone (apart from the failing GCSE's bit!)? Alison's figured it out: she just puts her head down, gets in her car and goes elsewhere. Am a bit pissed off with her to tell you the truth, because her boyfriend was here for about 12 hours yesterday and she never introduced us. I thought I'd leave it to her, since I'm performing an observational study, but she really couldn't care less. She's obviously got the more 'independent' air.
So this must've been what it was like to watch Mum and I too, two headstrong females absolutely intent on having their way, and not wanting to acquiese. Of course, I think Mum and I have it sussed now: when we visit the other, the hostess is in charge. And the other grins and bears it, right Mum! :) Sure, we may not do things the same way, and we may drive one another to total distraction when sharing the same roof, but finally some mutual respect has crept it's way into our relationship. I'm absolutely astounded by the way she kept the family together (despite thousands of miles, completely different cultures and fussy eaters), and I hope she's chuffed with the way I turned out too.
Gads, how sappy.
Tonight we have a party planned. When I say we, I mean Cheryl. She's planning on showing off her 'cousin the doctor'. It takes some trick of memory to finally think, 'oh, that's me!!'. I'm really not all that (and the bag of chips) but other people seem to think I am. EEK! So, I'll do my pony performance after a few vodkas, tell as many 'gentle'men as necessary that the likelihood of them getting to 'know' me better is less than that of Tamiflu being a useful precaution in a pandemic (then watch them flounder conversationally before smiling, complimenting them on their shoes and wandering off to make vacuous conversation elsewhere). I'm not sure why I've suddenly turned so pre-menstrual, but I have the feeling it's something to do with familial proximity. They're all in the same country (barring parents and a few aunts etc) and that FREAKS ME OUT.
Tomorrow we've got lunch at Reg and Lilians, at which I'm going to try not to do anything that will prompt a theological debate (as Cheryl doesn't like them) unless I think it means we'll be able to leave the house early. I'm wondering whether I can 'learn' how to speak in tongues between now and then...that should put a quick end to the luncheon. Reg told Lucie off yesterday, (literally, he quoted "Thou shalt not take the Lord's name in vain" - you could hear how he capitalised the L, so it's here for your viewing pleasure too) when she said "Oh my God", and I thought..."a-ha....you really ARE wound tight!". I'm wondering which would disturb him more, to hear a made up story that I've joined a satanic cult or the one where I'm in love with someone from a different religion. Whaddya think folks? Or is that just cruel? I'll keep you informed, of course! :)
Hope your Christmas was as gluttonous (I read somewhere that the average Briton consumes 9000cals on Christmas Day!) as mine, and that your presents (both given and received) rocked and your family passed out on the couches in the afternoon leaving you with some blessed downtime. One can only imagine with horror how Mary must've felt with all those visitors, presents and hostess duties at (supposedly) the first Christmas, right folks?!