deep and crisp and even


Some Great Moments in Williams Family Christmases:

5. Christmas 1980 – Deep in a proto-existential 12-year-old funk, I walk down the stairs Xmas morning to find a brand new Huffy 10-speed bike, colored burnt sienna with fuzzy handle grips. Promptly forget depression until I’m almost 20. Immediately take the bike outside and try to ride on sheets of Iowa ice. It will not thaw for another five months.

4. Christmas 1971 – About fifty of my family, half of us under the age of ten, are gathered at my Grandma’s place in Utah. In one of my first holiday memories, I begin to sense the whole “Santa” thing is a hunk of burning bullshit, and begin to caucus with my cousins. At that moment, sleigh bells are heard outside, and we all look at each other with unbelievable excitement and dread, and bolt upstairs to bed. I’m told about ten years later it was my Uncle Steve in the bushes with the sleigh bells.

3. Christmas 1985 – On Xmas eve, my parents scream at each other and throw antiques. My dad walks out, and my mom goes into a tailspin. I amble out into the snow in New Jersey, where my parents had relocated for a few months. I look to the black, cold sky and decide to change my life. I get a haircut, buy contact lenses, and in five months I have my first girlfriend ever.

2. Christmas 1993 – We rent a house in Big Bear, California. My mom nearly burns the place down by throwing hot oil out onto the porch. Sean and Michelle spend hours with fingernail clippers trying to snip out the burned tips of the shag rug. On the way to the store, I mention that “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is actually a song about date rape. I’m read the riot act for an hour by Sean’s first wife.

1. Christmas 2006 – We start the next generation of crazy-ass shenanigans with Lucy and Barnaby!


Christmas 1972 in Provo, UT – Santa freaks out Sean (held by Steve) while my cousin Vince and I are psyched

0 thoughts on “deep and crisp and even

  1. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    Yeah, I have concluded that the sooner you let go of the Rockwellian expectations for the holidays, the sooner you can embrace your particular family’s brand of holiday cheer!
    A Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good Jeeves.

  2. Anne D.

    A bike — in my case, a Raleigh English-style 3-speed in a stunning midnight blue — was one of my most memorable presents ever, too, Ian.
    Check my blog for a short riff on great Christmas presents from my youth and their lasting lessons for shoppers. :-)

  3. CL

    I enjoyed that!
    Merry Xmas to all of you Williamses (especially the newest one) for sharing your ups and downs with us, no matter how up or down they were, and also to my fellow blog readers. Thanks for such great reading this year.

  4. emma

    I’ll bet most families have odd Christmas stories. One of our most memorable ones involved a Christmas Eve dinner where the alcohol fueled the debate (about what, who knows?) so bad that my brother threw a chicken or turkey bone at my sister. The next year, my Dad tried to ban alcohol from Christmas Eve dinner and that lasted about twenty minutes.

  5. Joanna

    Today’s entry led me to research the origin of the “riot act” and to channel a ghost of my own Christmas past. The year was 1992 and my newly separated (soon to be divorced) parents were determined to give my sister and me a very normal family holday. We would spend it together but there was no way in hell my mom was going to cook for the cheating bastard. We shared Christmas dinner 1992 at the Ramada Inn buffet. My dad didn’t speak, my anorexic sister and overweight mother commented on eachother’s eating and I nervously picked at my roast beef and dinner roll.
    May all of you have happy and healthy holidays this year!

  6. kent

    One thing I remember about Christmas in Provo is the smell of coal smoke. Up until they banned it, people in Utah burned coal in their furnaces and fireplaces. I remember getting a fire going with kindling, and then heaving 15 pound chunks of hard anthracite coal on the fire. It was exactly like burning rocks.
    And at Grandma Klea’s house, they put a passel of us kids to bed in sleeping bags in the Attic, next to Klea’s boxes of saved wrapping paper. She died with 40 Christmases worth of saved wrapping paper up there. She always saved it, and never reused it!


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