A few days before Easter, I began cleaning my weapons, sharpening the cutlery, shopping for mace and pepper spray, stocking up on first aid supplies, refilling fire extinguishers, and Googling the phone numbers of bail bondsmen and criminal lawyers in the Chicago area.
We were hosting the family dinner this year and I wanted to be prepared.
This is the first time we’ve celebrated Easter at our house in several years. We usually spend the holiday at my sister’s house in Northwest Indiana. I prefer going to my sister’s place because she and her husband are pretty well off and can afford to hire security guards.
I asked my wife, the lovely Mrs. Milo, how she was preparing for the occasion. She said, “I’m going to roast a leg of lamb, prepare carrots, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy and a salad. We’ll have apple pie and ice cream for dessert.”
“Sounds great, babe. While you’re doing that, I’ll go down to Home Depot and get a chainsaw, a Taser, and some sandbags.”
I slept poorly the night before Easter. I kept having nightmares about previous holiday disasters.
I remember one Easter when my sister pepper sprayed her husband, Bill, when she caught him putting ketchup on his lamb chops.
I also recalled the time we had to take my 82-year-old uncle, Marko, to the emergency room when he threw his back out doing the Limbo with a bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon balanced on his head.
Then there was the 4th of July party where all of the men decided to have a big dick contest and each of us put 20 dollars into a pot as a prize for the winner.
My wife was disgusted. “I can’t believe you pulled out your dick in front of everybody.”
“Honey, I didn’t pull it out all the way. I just showed enough to win the contest.”
I was prepared for the worst when everyone arrived – daughters, niece, assorted boyfriends, sister and brother-in-law.
To my utter amazement, the evening went off without a hitch. There were no disagreements, arguments or fights. Except for my wife and sister overindulging on Bloody Marys and nearly ruining the gravy, everything went smoothly.
Oh, sure, there were a few tense moments. When my brother-in-law started telling a long, pointless and boring story about the many and varied pleasures of philately, my sister began eyeing her purse, where she keeps her blackjack.
And when I took off my shirt, got a Sharpie, and began playing connect-the-dots with the scars on my chest, which, I explained, had come from the many knife fights I had been involved in as a youngster, my wife gave me her ugly, sleep-on-the-couch stare. I quickly put my shirt back on.
I suppose most families have holiday traditions, rituals that have been passed down through the years. The traditions may involve serving certain foods, gift giving, religious observances, songs and dances, relating family histories, or seating arrangements at the dinner table.
Our family has a holiday tradition, too. We just hope to survive.
When the dinner was over and everyone was preparing to leave, my sister thanked me for hosting this year. “Great dinner,” she said, “but things were kind of tame for my taste.”
“To be honest, I thought it was boring as hell.”
“There wasn’t a fist fight, or even a decent argument all night. It was like a dinner party at Martha Stewart’s house.”
“I know. It makes me nostalgic for the good old days.”
“Thanksgiving is at my house this year. Maybe we should invite Uncle Marko, or your friend, Bruce, he’s a loose cannon, or a few of those wild Serbian boys from East Chicago. They know how to liven things up.”
“Sis, that’s an excellent idea.”
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