Background on the Christmas Letter Files here. Yep, I sent these fake letters to real friends and family.
It is December, isn’t it? I just spent 22 months in a rubber room at Flaky Acres with no shoelaces or newspapers allowed, and nothing to watch on TV but reruns of “The Beverly Hillbillies.” I keep forgetting my kids aren’t named Jethro and Ellie Mae, let alone what month it is.
So, you know that after Jimmy took up ballet and Paul and Ma shot it out in the back yard with the Uzi and the Sidewinder missile, I got a slight case of nerves and had to be voluntarily restrained. It wasn’t so bad, actually. After I out-wrestled Big Nurse and became top dog on the ward, I took control of the black market in cigarettes and forced the orderlies to change channels to “Gilligan’s Island” now and then.
But the orderlies got me back. One night while I was sleeping they switched my I.D. bracelet with the one belonging to the woman in the next bed. Come morning, the Immigration Service shows up, reads the tag on my wrist identifying me as Marie-Luc DuPoisson, visa jumper from Grenadine, and before I can scream they’re jabbering at me in French and loading me on a leaky boat to Port D’Absinthe. Big Nurse had told them I was delusional, and that I imagined I was an American woman who spoke English. So the immigration agents ignored my protests, chuckling, “She’s almost convincing, isn’t she?”
Meanwhile Marie-Luc got discharged from Flaky Acres with my driver’s license and Amex card in her pocket. She hit the makeup counter at Nordstrom and headed to my house. Paul came home to find candles burning on an altar in the den, Marie-Luc telling the future by casting teeth on the kitchen table, and two goats grazing on our living room carpet, looking flirty in their new Lancôme lipstick. He was suspicious.
I’d been gone a while, but Paul knew he’d never seen me wear chicken-feet earrings. He called a family conference to see if people agreed with him. After everyone watched Marie-Luc for a while, Twink and Vi said it wasn’t me. Ginger and The Professor — er, I mean Janie and Jimmy — asked if she did housework. Ma embraced her as the daughter she’d always wanted.
Paul tried to call the sheriff, but Marie-Luc held him at bay by letting Ma jab pins in a tiny Paul doll every time he picked up the phone. (Paul and Ma’s personality conflict has, let’s face it, deteriorated. Not so much because of the shootout, which they regarded as a fair fight, but because Paul refused to wear a black arm band in memory of Pop’s parakeet Genghis, the head-pecking little SOB who was accidentally blown up in the crossfire.)
Adding insult to insult, when I landed in Grenadine I was arrested for Marie-Luc’s various crimes — goat theft, practicing dentistry without a license — and dumped in De Menthe, the infamous seaside prison. The U.S. Embassy did zip to help.
I was a stranded castaway on an uncharted desert isle. The family tried to aid me: my valiant girls attempted a rescue but were captured entering the harbor. Grenadinian troops saw through their disguise as mimes when the girls couldn’t throw an imaginary rope and pull the boat to the dock. But at least then I had their company in solitary. And their efforts publicized my plight, even if the news media did belittle the the episode as the “Bay of Piglets.”
Hope had almost slipped away when Jimmy, ballet danseur and former mercenary supreme, intervened. As the girls and I sat in our dank cell one night, the guards shrieked in terror, dropped their weapons, and fled. The door to the cell burst open and in stormed the Joffrey Ballet, camouflaged in full costume for The Nutcracker. The Grenadines were a pitiful match for Jimmy’s disciplined corps. Confronted with a commando force of six-foot tall mice and gingerbread men, the guards flung themselves off the prison walls into the sea. We were home the next day.
I’ve been here a few weeks now, and, frankly, I’m trying to figure out a cheap way back to Port D’Absinthe. Ma and Paul’s sniping is practically constant. I don’t mean bickering; I mean small arms fire. Marie-Luc’s cooking burns through every plate it touches, and whenever Pop eats it he falls on all fours howling like a coyote and sniffing around the furniture. And this morning I heard a small peck, peck, peck on the front door. I opened it and screamed.
It was Genghis. That damned bird, and I do mean damned, was back from the grave courtesy of Marie-Luc’s spellcasting. Featherless, stiff legged, glassy eyed, he staggered into the hallway, chirping, “Revenge! Revenge!” After I passed out Twink managed to beat him off with a broom, but I’ve had it. Wrestling Big Nurse two falls out of three would be better than this.
Here’s hopin’ y’all get ’nuff Chris’mas presents to fill a cee-ment pond —
All of us
P.S. — CNN reports that since Saturday Genghis has terrorized pet shops in Bakersfield, Flagstaff, and Albuquerque. If you live east of the Continental Divide you should probably stay home with the windows locked and your heads covered for the next few weeks. Happy New Year!