Monday, April 21, 2008

A Family Tradition

Apparently my almost 9 year old sister is a huge fan of Hank Williams Jr's song "Family Tradition" in which Hank sings about drinking and smoking dope. Awesome. Actually, I really will talk about some family traditions, the type that only truly dysfunctional families have:

My dad was bugging my sisters about cleaning their rooms, including my 20 year old sister who recently moved back into the family home when her roommate betrayed her and caused her first serious break-up and heartbreak. I kept her company while she emptied the plastic garbage bags holding her clothes, folded everything, and put them all back into the dressers we had our entire childhood. That must have felt weird. We had Grey's Anatomy playing in the background and I became engrossed in the drama. Once her room was cleaned up we went to VS where I bought about 10 new pairs of undies - I know that it is possible to find and buy underwear in Alaska, but seriously, I was so used to VS that I had to just wait and stock up while back in "civilization" since I already know what I like and what size to get and I know it won't fall apart. I also went to Target, which I had missed a lot. I wanted to get a chi straightener but they were all gone, the employee I asked looked at me incredulously and prodded me about paying $130 for a hair styling tool, and I just admitted to being ridiculous. Obviously other people are ridiculous too, as the straighteners were all gone... The sister and I went to Trader Joe's and bought some stuff, all sorts of hippie foods that my parents used to think were bizarre - they are slowly but surely becoming more open to such things, while simultaneously maintaining their old-school republican ways. Is there a term for this phenomenon? Eating organic products while still supporting Bush? On the way back we stopped at my aunt and uncle's house where I played with the 2 year old twins and got to see the pigs my little cousin is raising.

Finally, Schwesterlein and I got home in time for dinner, which started out pretty well. In my family we have an awful habit of getting into huge arguments. I think we've come up with the best way EVER to end such arguments though.

Okay, so a brief history of my family at dinner time:

When I was really young I used to hate zucchini, so much so, in fact, that I would gag. I am pretty sure I even puked up zucchini when I was younger. We always had to have at least a serving of everything, including whatever awful vegetable my mom was serving (once there were brussel's sprouts resembling gremlins combined with water - you've seen the movie, you know what's up). I used to beg and plead to be spared from eating the zucchini, to no avail. I would then take a bite and start gagging immediately at the horror that was zucchini and my dad would yell at me for gagging. As it was something I couldn't control, I would get really upset and I'd start crying, then my dad would make this awful wailing sound (supposedly resembling my crying) which would make me cry harder. The soundtrack to dinner in my younger years was a medley of gagging, real crying, and theatrical wailing with the occasional loud scolding. Beautiful.

As we got older, the problems became less inane and more dramatic. Sometime during my college years I declared to my mother that I wasn't a good Christian girl because I didn't believe in God - I was, in fact, an atheist. My mom didn't hold this against me, surprisingly enough, but my confidence in her would later prove detrimental. My family started saying prayers around the onset of this lovely war in Iraq - to bless the troops, you know? Apparently they were closet Christians all along and I just never received any of that spiritual guidance in my formative years. The summer before my junior year of college, before leaving for Germany, I was living in an apartment in Salem with a friend of mine. I was at home visiting the family right before my sister was to go on vacation to Germany after her high school graduation. At dinner my dad insisted I say the prayer but I was resistant. My mom (probably wine-drunk) cries out that I am an atheist and that I don't want to say the prayer, inciting the wrath (of God through) my dad. What starts out as an attack related to my rejection of my supposedly Christian upbringing turns into this all out attack on every single trait I possess, every habit, every belief, and apparently my complete lack of maturity at the ripe old age of 19. I maintained complete calm during this episode, even when my dad kicked me out of the house (good thing I didn't live there anymore), even when my mom and all my sisters were bawling hysterically, I just sat there, un-moved. I drove the entire 2.5 hour trip with clenched fists in the middle of the night.

So, fast forward to tonight. We are having normal conversation, which inevitably will piss off someone. I said something which started to get my dad riled up, so I jokingly said I hadn't meant to start WWIII over whatever was said. Somehow, this conversation led to the recitation of some Queen lyrics which somehow led to our entire family, all the children, all the parents included, singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" in full force, using spoons as microphones, and with air guitar solos. Somehow, Queen is the best way to diffuse a potentially awful situation. With the 8 year old doing an interpretive dance in the living room, my mom gathering utencils for use as microphones, and the other sisters and I doing headbangers, shaking our hips, and belting out the lyrics, all was peaceful in the household.

We almost ruined things with Garth Brooks - apparently one Garth Brooks song is enough to cause great contension in this household, but Freddy Mercury may be the savior of our family life. Thank you, Freddy Mercury. Thank you.

In other wonderful news, I watched Juno for the first time tonight and I adored it. I thought it was a lovely movie and it made me get all tender and wish for true love with some awkward but caring boy. Maybe I already know him...

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