The Christmas Dinner


(Image via Pez Came)

Micaela Gaither, Writer

As the grandfather clock chimed 5 o’clock, the guests began to file in. My aunt and uncle had set the table, which at thirty feet in length and five feet across was gloriously large so that each person would have a comfortable distance between their tablemates. A space that would also serve to help separate some of our guests who don’t grasp the concept of “play nice.” 


While Aunty and Uncle set the table, I watched the windows with a burning gaze, hoping the snow would cancel the dinner, even though that would leave an abundance of food that could last us years. The only downside I saw was I might gain a few pounds and not have to suffer through a stressful dinner. Truly devastating. 


My hopes and dreams were thoroughly crushed when the first car pulled up. Then the next, and the next. Based on the guest roster, this was to be an eventful evening or maybe it will be quiet. Who am I kidding, the twins and grandma and grandpa are coming. Though Thomas, my older cousin, will also be there, and it’s always a good laugh as everyone refers to him by a different name. I don’t believe anyone knows his actual name, just that it starts with “T”. 

Dinner Time

While they all began filing into the grand dining room, I went through the kitchen doing a last-minute check of the food dishes, making sure they were all out on the table. However, when I left the kitchen carrying two bowls of salad, easily missed, I noticed that all the seats but one were taken, the one by the twins and grandparents. Luckily Tommy was on that end, too.   

Oddly enough I had missed one seat that was available right across from Tommy, instead, I took the one at the end of the table, between my grandparents and aunts. I usually was pretty talkative during dinners, but that was with only my aunt and uncle, with the rest of the family I was easily overwhelmed by all the varying and strong opinions. Today’s Christmas feast wouldn’t be any different. 

It started out quiet, and calm. The other end seemed to be discussing the church service most of the family had attended earlier, my aunt and uncle had skipped it this year, being as I was not ready to return to the annual midnight mass. My end was dead silent until Tommy asked for Aunt Linette to pass the mashed potatoes. The problem was he pointed to Aunt Annette, not Linette, and that small, tiny mistake lit a match. 

“I’m sorry, Tony but I am not Linette,” Annette sneered at her twin sitting next to her.  It has always been hard for the family to tell them apart. They were identical twins who had very similar clothing choices. 

“Oh, my bad, and um it’s actually To-” before Tommy could finish, Linnette cut him off. 

“Is it so hard to pass the mash potatoes, Annette?” Linette asked in sickly kind tone. “I bet it’s easier than stealing your sister’s boyfriend.”

That was just the beginning of a heated argument, the two sisters went at each with malicious words and threats. This was actually progress, they haven’t talked in five years, I’m surprised they are sitting by each other in the first place. Five years ago at a party, Linette’s boyfriend was under the influence, and mistook Annette for Linnette and kissed her. Linette blamed Annette, calling her terrible things, starting fights, and broke up with her boyfriend. Eventually, both of them had such strong opinions of the matter that their opinions cemented and made it difficult for them to reconcile. 

With the two aunts screaming at each other on one side of me, I was beginning to feel overwhelmed and having trouble breathing. Thinking a brisk moment outside would help, I began to rise from the table when my grandma grabbed my wrist gently. 

“Where are you going? You haven’t touched your dinner,” she scolded me. 

“I just need a moment grandma,” I attempted to pull my hand away, but she increased her grip. 

“Sit down now,” my grandpa chimed in. 

I sat back down in hopes I’d get another chance to leave, but eventually, my grandparents instead attempting to separate their two daughters who had left the room and were out on the lawn fighting, decided to critique my life. Even though I expected it, I was hopeful they would forget. 

“How are your grades?” my grandma asked. 

“Good,” I replied. 

“Really? I thought they would be bad after losing your parents only a year ago. How are they really?”

“I have all A’s, grandma.”

“Don’t lie to your grandma,” my ever so helpful grandpa muttered. 

I was trapped, I couldn’t win with these two. Last time I talked to them, they blamed me for my parents’ death, because if I hadn’t been born my mom wouldn’t have had to take that job across the country and then they never would have been on that plane. It’s not like I don’t already blame myself. 

Hoping that Tommy might get the hint, I looked up at him, sending an SOS message, so I wouldn’t have to keep talking to my grandparents. 

“Hey, are you gonna answer your grandmother?” my grandpa pulled my attention back by hitting the table. 

“Actually, I need to borrow my cousin here to help me find my way to the bathroom,” Tommy stood up acting as if he really had to use the bathroom.

“Yes, I would love to help,” I rose swiftly and walked away just as fast, grabbing Tommy’s arm along the way. “Thank you couz.” 

“Anytime, want to go hide upstairs, until everyone leaves?”

“Best way to spend any Christmas dinner.”

This is how I spend most Christmases, even when my parents were alive. I would get overwhelmed by all the people and then have to find an escape. Every year. Thankfully, Tommy has never been able to find the bathroom.  I’ve always found it ironic that Christmas is the time that family comes together and is supposed to be happy, but for me, it’s always been a time of fear: fear of what drama will come this year. It’s normal though, so it’s okay because even though there are negatives, hiding away with Tommy or hanging with more pleasant relatives makes it worth it.