The Torti Christmas is always a lovely orchestrated chaos of champagne, pant-wetting laughter and storytelling. Are we becoming predictable? I know these things to be true, and everyone in attendance will no doubt agree that:
1. My father (who we nicknamed “Flo” eons ago) will nickname my brother’s Romanian boyfriend after 15 mispronunciations of “Dragos.”
2. My sister Kiley (via satellite in Banff) will be put on speaker phone and have the distinct pleasure of deciphering six people talking at once. Speaker phone conversation may also include one of the cats (Izzy or Chloe) if they are cooperative and interactive.
3. Dax will (conveniently) disappear to “delete cookies from Mom’s laptop web browser.” This will occur when the dishes need to be done.
4. All of us will intermittently disappear to delete the cookie supply in the sunroom where the Tupperware and tins moan with sugar and butter. Here, layers of Nanaimo bars snug up with pecan shortbread, macaroons and butter tarts. This is precisely what I dreamt of in Africa in 2008 as I ate stale vanilla wafers and slugged back potentially salmonella-laden unrefrigerated egg nog.
5. My dad will be in charge of washing/drying the dishes because my mother goes all Iron Chef in the kitchen with delegation. As per every year, my father will leave all the dried dishes and pots on the countertop, because, after 10 years of living in their home in Terrace Hill, he doesn’t know “where mom keeps them.”
6. My mother will remark “did everyone see Flo’s museum display?” This comment will be in reference to my dad’s display of dried dishes which will take up every valuable inch of countertop space.
7. Before the traditional bird dinner, Flo will eat six consecutive slices of buttered toast in complete dire straits, patiently waiting for dinner to be ready.
8. Mid-afternoon, my mother will prepare an ooh-ahh worthy platter of fine cheeses, charcuterie and artisan crackers. She will prep a separate plate or delineate the tray for my dad: “This is your section. You won’t appreciate the expensive stuff.” My dad’s section will include Cracker Barrel cheddar and mozzarella cubes which he will enjoy in his usual Pac Man fashion. He will be served a thimble of wine because he won’t appreciate the value of the wine either.
9. Somebody will re-tell the story of the Great Unicycle Incident of 1985. This is when Dax decided to test drive his brand new unicycle in the livingroom and pulled the mantelpiece and miniature Grandfather clock off the mantel, nearly killing my dad and the family dog.
10. Somebody will reminisce about Nan’s Nordic knit sweaters. In the summer of 1987 our grandmother sneezed and wheezed her way through four sweaters (despite a lethal allergy to wool). Nan’s sweaters were a force to be reckoned with. The stovepipe arms narrowed and cinched so closely in the armpit that they threatened to cut circulation off. The waist ballooned out to allow for teenage pregnancy. The sweater’s neck was either large enough for two necks or required three people to assist in the pulling-over-the-head process.
11.My mother will periodically crank her favourite Paul Potts, Il Divo and Pavarotti songs on the stereo. My father will attempt to sneak in and turn the volume down when my mother is distracted with julienning or basting. She will notice. The volume game resumes. Repeatedly.
12. My dad will retreat to the “TV room” (with buttered toast) where he will use my girlfriend as a pawn. “I’m just keeping Kim company—she wants to watch the World Junior Hockey action. Hey Kim, can I get you a beer?” (Flo disappears into the TV area with a beer for Kim and a rye and ginger for himself with a thumbs up and wink). My mom will re-crank Pavarotti’s Nessun Dorma. Kim will remain seated to help facilitate sport-watching time for my dad.
13. When it comes time to unwrap gifts, Dax will use his traditional wrapping. “Close your eyes and hold out your hands.” Dax has never wrapped a gift in my Christmas memory.
14. While unwrapping gifts we will make fun of Kiley until my dad will say, “Now, don’t make fun of your sister, she’s not here to defend herself.” But, I know Kiley won’t mind. I will re-hash the story of Kiley and Her Gift-Giving Saga. Dragos doesn’t know all the Torti tales, so, we have renewed opportunity to share nostalgic stories. Kiley’s gift-giving has included:
a) A $200 autographed hockey stick that she bought on ebay for my dad (and convinced us to chip in on). Flo couldn’t recognize any of the signatures and thought it was a fake (insert Kiley’s pout and official ebay document of authenticity here). Further investigation reveals that the stick is signed by real players, from the Leafs farm team.
b) The $200 bird. Kiley buys a heron that is made out of rock and iron at an art show in Canmore, Alberta in the fall. Would Dax and I like to chip in on it? Chipping in on the bird for my mom will also cover the expense to ship the 100 POUND BIRD across Canada in time for Christmas.
c)The present for Dax that was “in the mail” that never arrived because there was no gift ever sent. (Love you Kiley!! And, I’m so glad nobody else in the family writes a blog).
This is just a prediction. Soon I may have to get my family members to sign a media release to protect myself from defamation charges.
But, then my dear family will be reminded of how grateful I am to be part of such a family. Eccentric, yes. Adoring, tenfold. I am so lucky to have a solid gold foundation.
We will miss having Kiley and Mark with us this year, but, via speaker phone and champagne stories, they are with us! Oh, and this is where the 15th prediction comes in. One of us will reminisce about that stupid Cabbage Patch Kid that Kiley got for Christmas. That doll with the head and booties made out of CEMENT that she beat us SENSELESS with.
Merry Christmas everyone. Love the ones you’re with.