The actual consuming of food is the easy part of holidays with her peeps. It’s the before and after that’ll get ya, when they are getting to know you…getting to know ALL about you. You are an idiot if you indulge it and an idiot if you dodge out of it. I just tried to keep my mouth full of food, but sooner or later, I have to start talking. Predictably, that’s when things slide downhill.
Entering her people’s house ‘round the holidays feels too much like pulling back the curtain at the old Tonight Show, as you’re expected to wave and smile like Sammy effing Davis Jr., greeting everyone with a wink and a point: Who loves ya, baby? Immediately, you’re called to the couch for chit-chat. WTF? How are you supposed to navigate that?
What you need is a holiday guide to her peeps. And I’m here to help. Don't be concerned about the aunts and cousins. Focus on the parents.
• Moms Mabley—Like the comic laughtress of the chitlin' circuit, every time you see her, she’s effed up but at least entertaining. She cusses up a storm and causes a scene in every restaurant asking for an extra glass of water for her dentures while she gums away on chicken bones. At one time, she was fine and had it all on the ball. But she fell off the horse a few good times and never got back on. Now she’s collecting an SSI check, trying to send you to the store for beer. Moms is sweet as pie. The problem, of course, is that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Her peeps is harmless, cool and a lot of fun to get high with. She’s toothless, too, with a butt as large and flat as a Sony TV. Welcome to your future.
• Independent Mom—Independent Mom has been both Mom and Dad so long, she doesn’t know how to just relax and enjoy parenthood a bit. Granted, being both mama and papa bear is stressful. But if mama wants her daughter to find a man, she needs to back up a little. She’s overbearing and obstructive, feeling a need to approve (never) or disapprove (always) everything. She’s single and keeps company with eight cats and a ferret named Oscar. She has convinced herself that she doesn’t need a man, and her daughter doesn’t either. When you’re dating a woman with a mother like this, the holidays can turn into a battlefield.
• Mr. Mom—Your girl is one of the lucky ones—both of her parents are still together. But between her peeps, Moms wears the pants. Moms is the Deebo of the house, shot-calling everything from what her dad does with his paycheck to when and how he should pee. Your girl looks up to and admires her Moms and hopes you and her can share a love like her parents. Lucky you. Hope you like wearing an apron.
• Sergeant Dad—Dad may or may not have any military experience, but he demands that military bearing from his children and his household. Which would be right on point except for the fact that he wants to put you under his thumb. too. He wants to run his house and your house, too. That, you can’t allow.
• Punk Dad—He’s not a man. Just a paycheck, maybe. Product of an Essence makeover, Dad is just a shadow a man, flinching anytime anyone in the house raises their hand too quick, for fear of being slapped around. Even Sprinkles the house cat has her father in check. Your girl says you could learn a lot from him. NOT.
• My Pal Dad—Pal Dad is a rare find, indeed. See, Dad used to be you when he was young. He knows the game, knows all the rules, and he keeps it gully: stays out your business, doesn’t take sides in arguments and loans you money to help with the bill when you need it with real reasonable terms. Prides himself on his ability to stay out of your business. NICE.
• Ghost Dad—Ghost Dad is a picture on the mantelpiece or a family photo album—he isn’t around and has never been around. Her mother rarely speaks of him, but your girl wishes on his name: wishes she knew him, wishes she could call him—wishing she’d ever spoken with him. This is when she may need your shoulder to cry on. Be there.
Naturally, these are extremes. Chances are better her people are as normal as yours … which is to say…um… well…
Single Father, Author, Screenwriter, Award-Winning Journalist, NPR Moderator, Lecturer and College Professor. Habitual Line-Stepper