Terry was seated around a large table in a Benihana’s with all the important women in his life. Karine was there, along with Louise, Vicky, his little sister
and Cerise was there too. For some reason Sarah Wong was also there, but she was the waitress and even in his dream Terry recognized this as sort of racist. Brittany
He was feeding Cerise orange sorbet and she was really into it, licking the spoon all sexy. Karine was sitting next to Vicky and they were very engrossed in their conversation about Terry’s performance in his hockey team this year. Karine was disappointed that Terry wasn’t trying hard enough but Vicky said he was too busy taking care of
to concentrate on hockey. Britt was wearing skates. Louise was sorting laundry. Cerise wanted more sorbet and Sarah brought her a tray with various flavours. She chose cherry and Terry felt really guilty about this. Brittany
“Wake up, wake up!” Joey bounced up and down on Terry’s bed.
Terry snapped awake and groaned as he pulled a pillow over his head. He could still see Cerise choosing the pink sorbet. Evan pulled the duvet off of Terry’s bed and the cold air struck his bare torso cruelly. Joey kept jumping and insisting Terry get up. Evan tugged at Terry’s jogging pants.
“Fuck, what time is it?” asked Terry from underneath the pillow.
“We let you sleep ‘till 7 so get over it! Come on! Mom won’t let us do anything until we’re all there!”
Terry forced himself to sit up and he pushed Joey’s legs out from under him, causing him to crash down onto the bed.
“Kill me,” Terry muttered as he picked a t-shirt up off the floor, smelled it to make sure it was reasonably clean and pulled it on, groggily stumbling out of his room.
Aunts, uncles, grandparents and about a million cousins were bustling about, including six-year-old Victor who kept crawling up Jay’s back and yanking at his hair. He’d had to push the kid off like a dozen times already. Amy opened a gift from their grandmother. It was a hand-knit sweater about twenty sizes too small. Jay opened his identically wrapped gift and it was an identical sweater, similarly tiny. His grandmother apologized, saying she hadn’t realized how big her grandkids had gotten recently. It was decided they’d give the sweaters to their younger cousins. Their grandmother spoilered that she’d knit them scarves next time. Jay didn’t feel the need to mention he already had a kajillion homemade grandma scarves at home.
Everything else Jay received was similarly useless. On his Christmas list he’d asked for very specific video games and RPG books, even providing visual aids and stores where they could be purchased. He’d gotten nothing he asked for. His parents even went so far as to buy him Monopoly. Like really. A fucking board game from the 20th century. Was it ignorance or a deliberate attempt to change him? If he believed his parents were clever enough to get irony he’d have thought the gift was meant to be a joke. But they really were retarded enough not to know the difference between an ancient board game and a real game. Jay’s only solace came in the fact that Amy had been similarly shafted. She’d asked for concert tickets to Feist and had gotten a Katy Perry CD.
All the kids sat around the fireplace in the den, digging through their stockings. Terry pulled a clementine out of his and began eating it. It always amused him how his mother insisted on putting baby oranges into their Christmas stockings each year. Like he couldn’t just go to the fridge if he wanted one. Evan and Joey tossed their clementines aside and Terry ate those too.
Once Louise and Rémi joined them they retreated to the living room, where the tree and all the real presents were.
Shauna, her parents and her brother, Malcolm sat on the sofas flanking the Christmas tree. It was Shauna’s turn to open a present. She unfolded the wrapping paper carefully. Her mother didn’t reuse the paper but she disliked a mess.
A pink blouse. Shauna thanked her mother and held up the shirt so her mother could take a picture.
“Push your hair out of your face,” instructed her mother.
Shauna obeyed and tried to smile for the picture while Malcolm grabbed a gift and started ripping into it.
“No one told you to open that,” said their father irately.
“Can I open it?” asked Mal.
“Wait for your mother.”
“I need to take a picture!”
“We have a system, Malcolm,” said their father. “We open our gifts in an orderly manner. If everyone opened whatever they wanted whenever they wanted it…”
“What? It would be chaos? It would be Christmas anarchy?” Mal couldn’t disguise his sarcasm.
“Don’t be smart, Malcolm,” said their father.
“As if he could,” Shauna muttered under her breath.
“Shut up!” snapped Malcolm.
“Watch your mouth!” yelled their father, smacking Mal on the head.
Malcolm flinched but took the hit. He glared at Shauna, who avoided his gaze.
Their mother held up her camera. “Ok, open it now, Malcolm!”
Cerise and her sisters cleaned up the gift-wrapping debris in the den while Angela cooked breakfast in the kitchen.
“So you think they’re getting back together?” asked Julie as she stuffed paper into the recycling bin.
“No,” said Simone.
“So no.” Cerise shook her head.
“You don’t think?” Julie pouted.
“He would have stayed if they were,” Simone pointed out.
Their father hadn’t even spent the night. Right after dinner he’d gotten up and drove off. He had seriously driven a 3 hour trip twice in one day.
“Still though, maybe,” shrugged Julie.
“It was just for Christmas,” said Cerise.
“No,” said Simone.
“No!” Simone and Cerise snapped in unison.
Terry put a few gifts into the trunk of his car while Evan climbed into the passenger seat and Joey got into the back.
“Have fun,” said Louise as Terry slammed the trunk closed.
“K,” he nodded, walking to the driver’s side door.
“Make sure they eat some vegetables,” she said, indicating his brothers. “That woman does serve vegetables doesn’t she?”
“Her name is Vicky, and yes, she serves vegetables.” Terry had always felt it unnecessary to mention that Vicky was a way better cook than Louise.
She held out a small gift bag. “Here, for the child.”
“Her name is
,” said Terry as he took the gift. Brittany
“Of course it is,” nodded his mom.
The ringing of the phone woke Karine. She rolled over and looked at the clock. Noon. She’d been dreaming of her father, which was always rather depressing. In her dreams she always felt like she needed to tell him something but never could for whatever reason.
She reached over to the phone and placed it to her ear. “Hello?”
She listened while her mother wished her a merry Christmas and told her how beautiful
was and how her latest boyfriend was so wonderful and blah, blah, blah. When asked about her gifts she told her mother she hadn’t opened them yet but assured her she would soon. After hanging up she debated whether or not to get up. Apparently this internal debate had lasted an hour because it was nearly 1 when she finally strolled downstairs for breakfast. Florida
They only ate bacon twice a year in the Laframboise household. Once for Easter brunch and once for Christmas brunch. It wasn’t a deliberate attempt to avoid fatty foods; it was just the way things had worked out. Angela didn’t necessarily avoid meat but it was always an afterthought in their meals.
“So yesterday was fun wasn’t it?” asked Angela pleasantly as her daughters loaded up on pig fat.
“Yep,” they agreed.
“Well um… I’ve invited someone else for dinner tonight.”
“Our other daddy?” joked Simone.
Cerise snickered but Julie didn’t seem amused.
“A man I’ve been seeing. His name is André.”
All the girls looked at one another in surprise.
“André?” scoffed Julie. “What is he, a seal? Since when are you dating someone?”
“It’s been a few months.”
“And you never told us?”
“Well it wasn’t a secret.”
“Then how come I didn’t know? Did you guys know?” Julie looked at her sisters accusingly.
“Like I pay attention to mom’s love life,” snarked Simone.
“Seriously, eww,” Cerise frowned.
“And this loser is coming here tonight? Thanks for the warning, mom. God!”
“I wasn’t planning on inviting him. It was a last minute thing. His daughter is going to her mother’s so he has no one to be with. I thought it would be a good opportunity for you all to meet him.”
Julie snorted in disgust and Cerise and Simone shrugged indifferently as they sopped up their egg yokes with toast.
“Merry Christmas!” Vicky greeted her step-sons as they walked into the house.
Terry returned the greeting and placed the gifts under the tree. Vicky was cool but she could be a bit fastidious and their tree looked like it was straight out of a catalogue. It was all colour coordinated with matching ornaments and stuff. The tree at his mom’s place was a mess, all haphazard tinsel and decorations they’d made as kids.
But his dad’s house looked a bit lived in now. Judging by the mess,
had already opened a few things. She was banging a Fisher-Price piano and squealed when she saw her big brother. Terry picked her up and twirled her around in the air as she laughed in delight. Evan and Joey disappeared into the TV room. Brittany
“Oh, look at all these wonderful gifts,” Vicky beamed.
“This one’s for Britt,” said Terry, indicating the gift bag with his foot. “It’s from my mom.”
“Oh how nice,” Vicky said politely. “I suppose I should write her a thank-you note.”
“Terry! Go get some firewood in the garage,” bellowed John as he entered the room.
“We’re having a fire? It’s not even cold out.” Terry put Britt back down and she kept smashing her piano.
“But a fire would be so festive,” said Vicky.
“I guess,” shrugged Terry.
“Just do it!” ordered John.
“Jawohl mein Kapitan!” shouted Terry, saluting his father and walking towards the garage.
Karine never bothered putting up a Christmas tree. Her mother simply left her gifts on the piano in the den. Karine grabbed them and sat on the couch, turning on the TV. She opened the larger gift and found a pair of fuzzy slippers made to look like cows. She put them on and opened the small gift, which was a necklace. It was very pretty but Karine sighed in annoyance and stuffed it back into its box. Would her mother ever stop giving her necklaces? She could tie them end to end and string them around the globe by now. Her mother knew perfectly well that Karine wore her locket exclusively. Why the fuck did she keep trying to make Karine forget her dad? Or maybe it wasn’t deliberate. Maybe she really hadn’t noticed the locket. It’s not like Karine had ever shown her the picture inside. And her mother certainly had never displayed any awareness of what was going on in Karine’s life.
Whatevs, it was a cute piece of jewellery, Karine could totally regift it.
“Clothes?” said Joey in disappointment as he took a pair of slacks out of a beautifully wrapped box.
“They’re nice. You don’t have any dress pants,” explained Vicky.
“Gee, I wonder why,” frowned Joey.
“I think you meant to say: thank you, Vicky,” said John.
“Thanks Vicky,” shrugged Joey.
Vicky smiled and shrugged apologetically in response.
“Whoa!” exclaimed Terry as he read a card he’d just opened.
“It’s from your father and I,” smiled Vicky.
“That’s pretty cool, thanks.”
“What is it?” asked Evan.
“They’re gonna fix up my car. New tires and stuff.”
“How come I never get the car?” asked Evan.
“’Cause you can’t drive, moron.”
“You two will share the car when you get your license,” said John.
“What?” Terry was shocked. “When was this decided? I thought it was my car!”
“It’s my car,” said John. “You just use it.”
“So then this isn’t really a present for me.” Terry waved the card. “It’s for you.”
John sighed and looked at his wife. “I swear I was never this ungrateful when I was that age.”
“Of course they have an overblown sense of entitlement. They’re white, middle class males,” Vicky smiled at John sardonically. “Just like their father.”
The girls were loading the dishwasher when the phone rang. Julie picked it up and handed it to Cerise. The caller ID indicated the Darren residence. At first they’d let Shauna’s calls go to voicemail but she wasn’t leaving messages, just calling over and over again. Cerise sighed and answered.
“Hello? Yeah hi, Shauna. Yep, got lots of good stuff. You? It’s Christmas, Shauna, obviously I can’t do stuff. I’m going to my dad’s in
, remember?” Quebec City
“Cerise!” Simone yelled. “Cerise! Come on Cerise, we need you over here, get off the phone, it’s the end of the world, oh my god!”
Julie laughed and joined in. “Cerise, we need to go, everyone is gonna die if you don’t get off the phone right now!”
Cerise tried to contain her laughter. Shauna was asking what was going on.
Simone grabbed the phone and yelled into it. “Ahh, static, ahh you’re breaking up!” She slammed the phone back onto its bed.
“Simone, that was so mean!” laughed Cerise. “I can’t believe you did that!”
Shauna hung up the phone and sat on her bed. She reached under her pillow and pulled out the razor blade. She pulled up the sleeve of her pink blouse and ran the blade over the inside of her arm. She didn’t push hard, just scraped the dead skin off. She watched the flakes fly into the air and drift down onto her pants.