Grasshopper Soup: The many joys of Christmas |

Grasshopper Soup: The many joys of Christmas

Bob Sweigert
Grasshopper Soup
By Bob Sweigert

Christmas is that wonderful, magical time of the year when everybody gets together from all over the country to spend an entire week sleeping at the airport. Lines at the mall are so long, and the crowds so huge, nobody can move. Pick pockets and thieves have a field day reaching into everybody’s jacket, pants and shopping bags, removing wallets, gum, cologne, neckties, batteries and toys too dangerous and deadly for children.

Christmas is especially fun for the kids, and a good time for them to get lost. If you lose your child, don’t panic, and don’t feel guilty about it. At least you noticed they were gone. Give yourself credit for that. Call Homeland Security immediately.

During the holidays, in some parts of the country, people actually reach their destination and get to spend a few days with people they haven’t seen for a whole year. They are called family. They drink large quantities of alcohol and start talking all at once, unless you are lucky and come from a professional family.

Professional families try very hard to stay calm around all these strangers with the same last name, and they think very carefully before saying anything. They are extremely polite to one another, so that when someone tells a dirty joke it makes everyone feel like they are a part of something really special. Unprofessional families are usually very loud.

They are constantly disagreeing, correcting one another and boisterously trying to top everything everybody else says or does. A half-dozen different conversations are going on all at once, and the topics are constantly changing, but nobody ever really notices. Christmas dinner is like a real bad opera.

Many professional family members have extra capital letters after their name that signify a higher level of intelligence, and they let everybody know it. Others just have blood shot eyes, signifying a higher level of something that may or may not be legal in some states.

One of the most notable differences between professional and unprofessional families is the kind of beer and wine they drink, and the number of ex-spouses and third and fourth wives or husbands present. Professional families burp less and don’t cuss as much as unprofessional families, especially on Christmas day. Professional families give fewer gifts, which is the green thing to do. And they play Scrabble on a rotating board.

Progressive families have replaced the age old tradition of leaving milk and cookies out for Santa Claus with an entirely new ritual of their own. They leave some Yoplait yogurt, carrots and broccoli, and maybe a few sunflower seeds instead, and a government pamphlet warning against the dangers of obesity. On Christmas morning they dutifully enter the living room where, for ten years in a row, they have been finding a plate of shriveled veggies, unopened yogurt and missing sunflower seeds.

The parents have no idea who took the seeds. The kids used to ask about the missing sunflower seeds, and they got a different story every year. Now they just laugh and say, and#8220;Mom and dad are nutsand#8221;.

The most normal families usually stay home and don’t invite anybody over for Christmas. What they do exactly, besides open presents and eat, is not widely known because nobody ever sees them do it. Experts say the most normal families remain in their pajamas all day, tell the truth, sing songs, play games, laugh, dance, play hide and seek, break their new toys and generally make a big mess of the entire house. And they love every minute of it.

During the holidays, some families experience the miracle of the family in the stable, or the cave, in Bethlehem. They experience the simple joy of life at its finest, with new life, with all life, and the strength of the brightest star in the sky. They embrace the innocence they see under the light of the star. They treasure gifts found, not in stores, but in the depths of their being. They are never alone, and they are always at home.

Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, ski instructor and commercial driver. He’s lived at Lake Tahoe for 27 years.

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