Christmas and New Years growing up was great as my brother and I didn’t have any sports or other activities to be dragged all over hell and half of Georgia for. This time of year was all about family, celebrating the holidays and on occasion we got to see the two converge. Dad wasn’t much of a drinker but when he did have a drink you can bet it was most often in the safety and security of my uncle’s garage, away from the eyes of the women in the house but more importantly…my mother. Who upon seeing my father at the end of the night would declare, “your father is funny faced”.
There was certain etiquette in going to my Aunt Dodie and Uncle Gene’s house. But Christmas and new years were different, there was hardly a boring moment in the garage and there was always something happening that chances are, were not going to happen again anytime soon. Those things would usually start with a rather innocuous phrase such as “hey this schnapps tastes like mouthwash”, and end the next day with “I’m not sure why your uncle was crawling out the window…can you ask your mother to get me some Alka-Seltzer.”
I remember the garage being full of uncles, cousins and friends all laying claim to the odd milk crate, cinder block, old car seat, lawn chair or other perch in which to sit on. It started out as a group of discussions on all things mechanical or home maintenance related. The odd beer was distributed to any and all newcomers who made their way into the garage and greetings were made quietly while a dissertation was being given on say, a 63 Chevy Impala Z11 427 ‘mystery motor’ or other such important things.
Then the offer “highball?” was made by my uncle. Then me, my brother and any cousins available would make our way inside to ferry drinks and what would be platters of finger foods back to the garage. The drinks were made by any number of the battalion of women in the house and were usually a combination of Canadian Whiskey and ginger ale or half n half. Initially drinks were freely poured, later in the night the women would begin to ask who each drink was for and formulate weaker drinks accordingly.
Somewhere between ten and eleven the merriment was in full swing and everything from men dancing in the snow of the driveway in their stocking feet to the passing and sipping of some clear liquid from a mason jar someone had brought back from a trip. The night usually ended with my mother driving us home and my brother and I being fortunate enough to ride in the front seat, while my father said funny things and laid across the back seat happy as could be.
As my brother and I got older there were girlfriends, wives and eventually children. Over the years the gatherings got smaller, times got busy and visits were further apart as my brother and I moved from the area. When I go back now I see a dark garage and imagine my father and uncles dancing and singing in a snowy driveway. It was the one time a year I got to see my father not be so serious with work, finances and family obligations weighing him down. I got to see him live a little.
So on this first anniversary of my blog and also my father’s birthday which was my inspiration for writing in the first place, I want to say thank you very much for reading my ADD riddled pieces of angst. I want you to remember that it’s okay to go out in the snow in stocking feet, and drink from an unmarked Mason jar from time to time. The Mayans were wrong, but eventually the end is going to come, and the last thing you want to have the answer to is why your uncle was crawling out the window. Live a little…Highball?!