Ever since I was little Christmas was always my favorite holiday. The food, the presents, helping mom and dad decorate the Christmas tree. Putting the star on top of the tree was my absolute favorite and I’ve been doing for the last 15 years.
This year things are going to be a lot different I knew it the moment mom and dad gather us in the family room to tell us they were getting a divorce. Fast forward 5 years later and mom gets remarried to this guy she meet on a work retreat and suddenly it was no longer a work retreat but mom getting her groove back.
Six months after they started dating, she introduced him to the family; at least she had the decency to take things slow. His name was Chow Lee or Lee Chow; I don’t know I keep getting it mixed up. The guy gave me the creeps; he’s always happy and perky for no reason. I mean who has a smile on their face every day?
So yes, this Christmas will be a lot different from my previous childhood memories. Who cares about tradition right?
Maybe we should just throw Christmas out the door and celebrate Hanukkah instead.
“Hey Mark you’re not going to believe this,” my sister said banging on my door.
“What is it now,” I said pulling the door open to see my sister with a ridiculous smile on her face.
“Dad just called apparently he’s bringing his new girlfriend to dinner,” she laughed.
“Oh for Christ sake, what’s next, is grandma going to show up with her new boo too.”
“Wait grandma has a guy friend?”
“Oh you didn’t hear,” I snickered. “Buckle in little sister, this is not the average McKinley Christmas dinner.
“I’ll say,” Cindy replied heading downstairs.
Cindy was the youngest of my five siblings, she acts all innocent but secretly she loves the drama. I was the middle child after my two twin brothers Simon and Liam, and the second youngest was my sister Lilly.
I had finally finished adjusting my tie about to head downstairs when I bumped into Liam running upstairs.
“Hey what gives man?”
“Sorry Markey,” (I kept telling him not to call me that) he rushed out.
“Where are you off to in such a hurry anyway?” I asked.
“Mom said I had to change before Mr. Lee came back with his family from the airport.”
“Of course she did,” I grumbled stepping into what would certainly be a Christmas to remember.
“Hey mom,” I greeted mustering up my best pleasant smile.
“Hey Mark are you done hiding? If so can you help me set the table?”
“I wasn’t hiding, I was fixing my tie,” I complained.
“Ok sweetie, if you say so.”
We set the table in silence, when suddenly there was a knock at the door.
“I’ll get it,” Cindy shouted from the kitchen.
Oh look at her acting all innocent when secretly she was waiting for the drama to start.
“Merry Christmas Kiddo,” I heard dad say from the hallway.
“Merry Christmas daddy,” Cindy replied as I rolled my eyes.
As soon as everyone stepped into the dining room, I was able to get at better look at dad’s new girlfriend of the week. She was a bit plump with red hair that extended all the way up like a groovy 90’s hairstyle and wearing maroon shade spectacles. It’s like mom and dad found the last two single people on earth to have at our Christmas dinner this year.
“Hey everyone Merry Christmas, this is Linda,” my dad introduced.
“Hi yall, thanks for the invite,” she smiled.
“We had no idea you were coming trust me,” I mumbled.
“What was that Mark,” my dad asked.
“I said the more the merrier.”
Suddenly the door was being opened and Lee and his family barreled into the dining room, all five of them. Oh Lord, do we even have room for all these people?
“Hello everyone, this is my family, they came all the way from Hong Kong,” Lee announced.
“Welcome to our home,” my mom greeted happily.
I stood for a minute confused when they did not reply, only to see Lee translate what mom had said for them, it seems they didn’t speak any English.
“Ok introductions time,” Lee smiled.
“This is my mom Ling, my dad Lou, my sister Lian, my brother Lee and my grandmother Jun.”
Funny enough his brother Lee looked exactly like him, I thought they were even twins.
“Tell them we say Hello,” my mom said excitedly watching as Lee (mom’s Lee not brother Lee) translated for them as they nodded their heads and smile.
“Well are we going to eat or what?” my dad asked impatiently as his date just smiled at everyone.
“Yes, yes,” my mom said. “And as a surprise for your family I research traditional Chinese dishes that I made in celebration of them coming to our first Christmas dinner.”
“Wait what?” my brother Simon said finally coming downstairs from his “nap”.
“Mom you can’t be serious right?” He whined.
“Yes I am very serious, now go help your little sister and grandma with their bags I see their car pulled up.”
The table was set, the guest were seated and Christmas dinner was about to be served. Mom was about to say grace, when the door bell rang.
“Who could that be,” mom said.
“Don’t know but I’ll get it.”
I hurried to the door, pulled it open to reveal a short plump man with a receding hair line. He swayed from left to right as he took a sip from his flask.
“Can I help you?”
“It’s me uncle Chow,” he snickered like I was suppose to know who that was.
“Uncle Chow, you made it,” Lee said coming to the doorway.
“This is your uncle?”
“I thought your flight got cancelled?” Lee asked.
“It did but you know I got connections baby, I hope I’m not late,” he coughed.
“No not at all we were just about to eat,” Lee said.
“Oh good I’m starving,” he said pushing pass me into the dining room.
He looked like he needed a doctor not more food I thought to myself.
“Everyone this is my Uncle Chow, he lives in Jersey.”
“Oh good more people,” my dad mumbled.
“Welcome we were just about to say grace,” my mom smiled.
“Hopefully there are no more disturbances,” I sighed causing mom to give me a glare.
Mom prayed and unnecessary long prayer and as soon as she said amen everyone dug in, well everyone from Lee’s family. I looked around the selection of food hesitant to take my first bite. There was no ham or turkey but a peeking duck as mom called it which still had the feet intact, soups and dumplings, fried rice and noodles, spring rolls and chicken feet, shrimp, beef and chicken sauté and some unidentified glop in the corner.
“When is the rest of the food going to be ready?” dad asked.
“There is no other food, this is it,” Liam said scooping some fried rice on his plate.
“Wait she was serious about that.”
“Yes dad, don’t be rude,” Cindy said trying but failing to smile as she ate a chicken feet.
“I’m not being rude, I’m hungry”, he shouted.
“Maybe you should try it before complaining,” mom hollered back.
“Fine,” he grumbled.
I watched at the other end of the table as Lee’s family was in a heated conversation with him, I think they didn’t like mom’s food, I could tell by the way they smiled every time I looked at them.
I looked over at my little sister who was too busy texting on her phone to care whether or not the food was good. Simon to her left was snacking on the spring rolls with no care in the world and Liam had yet to eaten his fried rice.
“Ah excuse me,” I heard dad say getting up from the table. I watched him curious as he took his phone from his packet stepping into the kitchen.
“Dad what are you doing? I asked causing him to jump.
“Jesus! What does it look like I’m doing I’m ordering pizza, I’m hungry.”
“Order me one too,” Liam said coming into the kitchen.
“I want breadsticks,” Cindy said coming in next.
“Moms going to killed you guys,” Simon laughed.
“Oh so you don’t want anything dad smirked.”
“Of course,” he replied too quickly.
“Quick guys go back in the dining room so mom doesn’t get suspicious,” I said.
We were all sat at the table busy picking at our food when the door bell rang.
“Oh who could that be, let me check,” dad said getting up suspiciously.
“I’ll help you dad, to uh hold the door,” I replied.
Dad and I went to the door collected the pizzas and went back into the dining room; obviously he was not afraid of mom.
“I got real food guys,” dad said causing my siblings to cheer along with uncle Chow, not going to lie I saw a glint in Lee’s family eyes too.
“You ordered pizza!” mom said shocked.
“Yeah the kids were crying to me that they were hungry what was I suppose to do.”
“Hungry, there’s food here,” mom cried.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw Lee took up a slice of pizza, followed by his mom and dad and then the whole family.
“Lee not you too,” mom said.
“Honey I’m sorry I know you tried your best but dinner was not the greatest”, he said sheepishly.
“Oh no looks like this guy wants to be divorced,” dad laughed.
“Well I just have one thing to say mom said causing the whole table to go tense waiting for mom to flip.
“Pass me a slice of pizza,” she said causing everyone to laugh.
I guess this Christmas wasn’t too bad after all.