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Old 01-18-2020, 09:15 AM
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joseph engraver joseph engraver is offline
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Location: Sarzana,Italy
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Default Christmas and my Italian Family

The Christmas that became a very bad dream.
I wanted to write about my Christmas experience with the “ ITALIAN FAMILY”.
It all started out so well, Franca was cooking and we were singing as I pealed veggies “The Family is coming hurray, hurray, the sun is shining and it´s a wonderful day.”
We were laughing as we wrapped the presents and the kitchen was redolent with the smell of baking bread, grilled shrimp and apple pie. The phone began to buzz, Franca answered i. (I never answer the phone.)
The family was on the way and would arrive about 7 P: M: and we should set the table for 6 as The “Older Sister Terri was coming “I don’t know if I have ever mentioned her but if you imagine the witch in the movie Oz, 6 ft tall, weighing 200 lbs with the eating habits of a wild boar and you will have a general idea of how much she is welcome here. In addition to that, she was diagnosed with moderate dementia and needs constant supervision when she is in a place she is not familiar with.
It seems that when she shows up the peace I normally have heads out the door and pandemonium takes over.
However, this particular holiday season I told Franca that I would take extra pains to have a cheerful family get together as I set the table for the feast that Franca had been working on for several days.
It was 7:15 when my dog Jack began barking and the phone buzzed. I went to the window and saw the “Family” pulling into the yard, and said to Franca “Merry Christmas my dear, it looks like your family is finally here.”She looked into my eyes and said.” It is Our Family, remember.”
Soon everyone was greeting us with hugs and kisses as they unloaded my nephew Alex´s almost new car. and helped Maria Teresa (Terri) “ The other Sister” out of the car, who as soon as she saw the dog began yelling at him “ Go away, shoo, go away “
I knew this was going to happen and had put him on his leash; I pulled him into my studio and shut the door until ever one was up the stairs and into our apartment. Of Course Terri needed to go pee immediately, but she was afraid of falling down the stairs. So greetings were postponed until her nephew Yvi helped her up and down the stairs and natures call had been answered. By that time Franca and Julie were discussing Terrie´s mental health which had been deteriorating and as far as I was concerned had turned into stage two senility .Alex had already devoured half a loaf of fresh bread and was now eating all the cashews and walnuts, his brother Yvi was texting a girlfriend he had met that summer at a disco here. And there was Terri was sitting on my favorite spot on the sofa watching her favorite program, something called Marco Polo.
“How long before we eat? “ I asked Franca. She looked at me and whispered “Remember it is Christmas and you must have patience.” Fine, I replied. “Call me when it is time, I am going down to my studio with my dog.”
My patience paid off and it wasn’t long before we were all sitting around the table loaded with great food, champagne and cheer.
I usually sit at the head of the table, or the end of it depending on one’s point of view. Dinner that night was different. The Sister was sitting in my spot and was already drinking my wine, but she was FAMILY so I took a place next to her and asked if she liked the wine. “Very good” she replied as she finished the glass and reached for the bottle to replenish it .I usually eat in small bites and like to take my time, but this was Christmas eve and the nephews were working on the last of the bread, and I knew that I needed to hurry if there was any chance of getting my share of lasagna.
When the meal was over one nephew went back to texting. My other nephew asked to borrow his brother car and left, Terri returned to my spot on the sofa while she waited for Franca and her sister Giuliana to fix her coffee and apple pie a la mode as I helped clear the dishes off the table. All in all the arrival and meal with The Family went as well as I could hope for and about midnight I said good night and went to bed. Giuliana and Maria Teresa walked over to their hotel room. We have always booked a hotel room for her as she doesn’t like my dog., but this time because of her mental instability she could not be trusted to be alone and Giuliana was staying with her
Christmas Morning, 3AM and all is not well.
My bladder woke me up and I got to the toilet did my thing and was headed back to dreamland when I realized that every light in the house was on and there was a blue light flashing in front of my home. I look out the window and see my two nephews walking up and down in front of a flat bed towing truck with Alex´s car on it. I step out onto the balcony and yell “What’s happened?” Alex looks up sees me and calls back “Yves has had an accident, someone hit him and left without stopping and my car is wrecked.
Where can we put my car? My first thought was has he been hurt, but then I could see that he was not. How bad is the car damaged I shouted down to the distraught Alex, at that moment I felt sad that his first car had been badly damaged. Then I remembered it was not my problem or responsibility and they had ruined my sleep and now I had to wake Franca .I muttered to myself “How in the hell should I know where to put it”. Then went to wake Franca and go back to bed. Fortunately there is a garage next to us that does body repair, so that is where the car ended up for the night. Of course no one got any sleep that night and in the morning no one opened any gifts because Franca had to take Yves to the police station to file a report. There he was told that as no one could be charged because no one had been arrested and no proof that he was not responsible, the insurance coverage would not cover the damages unless of course he could find the responsible party
Franca had booked Christmas lunch at a nice restaurant for that afternoon. It was a twelve course meal w champagne wine and dessert, for 40 Euros a person. The food was excellent and I enjoyed it even though I had to look at the sad face of Alex and the guilty look on Yves’s. The older sister Terri was oblivious to the problems as she had spent the night in a nearby hotel. She ate and ate and drank, and drank to the point where she was very tipsy. As I watched her she reminded me of a food disposal machine, but it was Christmas day and I felt it better to keep my mouth shut, smile and fill her glass when it was empty. Three hours into the feast I was stuffed, Alex was feeling not so sad, Yvi was wisely keeping quiet, Franca and Giuliana were happy and Terri was very drunk. I decided that a walk would be good for me so I skipped coffee and walked home where I went down to my studio to read the news on the computer .I had just settled down to read when Franca came in to tell me that she was taking Yves to the police station to see if they had found any photos on a surveillance camera.
The Sister At first I was confused ,I did not know why she was in my house as I was under the impression she had gone to the hotel to take a nap .When Alex came rushing into my studio.”You need to come up stairs Uncle. Aunt Terri had fallen down and can’t get up and there is blood coming from her mouth I think she has knocked some of her front teeth out. In the living room I saw her on the floor at the foot of the stairs, blood running down her chin and she was unable to get to her feet. Alex also looked confused and shocked. I got an icepack from the freezer, wrapped it in a dinner napkin and gave it to her to put it on her mouth. Then my vow to have a nice Christmas holiday with the “Family fell apart. I yelled.” What is she doing here? She is supposed to be at the hotel taking a nap. How did she get here?” Alex answered “Aunt Franca and mom brought her here so Mom could get some rest. I left her on the sofa watching TV and was upstairs when she decided to come up stairs to go to the toilet and she fell; now she won’t get up.” Together we got her up off the floor and onto the sofa, once we had her seated my headache began as I told Alex to call Franca who was at the police headquarters with Yves filling out accident forms at that moment ,and then the ambulance for Terri . Then found the rum, poured a shot and went down stairs to the sanctuary of my studio. It wasn’t long before more flashing blue lights lit up the Christmas night sky in front of my home. THE SISTER was strapped into a stretcher, loaded into the ambulance and taken to the emergency room in La Spezia. That was the time I said to hell with it all and went to bed.
It was around 5AM when Franca came into the bedroom, told me that “The Sister” was back at the hotel and we settled down for a long winter’s nap that lasted for about one hour. Then it was decided to send them home by train. That it would be done in two trips, one with Alex, his brother and The SISTER. Then a second trip with Giuliana and the luggage. I offered to stay home and keep the dog company:
As they were packing they discovered that everyone would fit and only one trip was needed if The SISTER sat in front and everyone else squeezed into the back seat. That was two weeks ago and since then The Sister has been operated on for a fractured jaw. She got out of surgery today and the car has been put on a trailer and transported back to Brescia this morning. Tonight I am taking Franca out to a nice quiet restaurant. Jan. 15, 2020
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