Friday, November 29, 2013

Food Poisoning and Lice: Holidays in the Trenches with

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I torture my husband. Now I have never tied him to a rack for a cute new pair of shoes, but I do make him spend the holidays with my family. My family is their own special brand of crazy, not the throwing jars of ketchup crazy, but the unfortunate victims of weird circumstances. Almost every time we spent the a holiday with my family, he leaves shaking his head and wondering how next year could possibly get more weird. I could tell you about it, but I grew up with the crazy, so it is better coming from him. From Nickelodeon, Nick Mom and my husband, I bring you the highlights of our holiday mishaps.

When I went down on one knee and proposed to my wife I expected a few things:
  1. Her to laugh at me and tell me no.
  2. Me to probably stumble over my words and say something like, “Will you with me marry like Peter, Paul and Mary?” (What? I say weird things when I get nervous.)
  3. Me to accidentally drop her ring into the waterfall and be out a future bride and a very expensive ring.
But what I didn’t expect was the holiday mayhem I would be getting into once I married in to her family.

I love my wife’s family. I do. But if there is one thing they struggle with it’s having traditional holiday celebrations without some sort of chaos ensuing.

I got my first taste of the madness the first Christmas we had together after we got married. At first, everything seemed normal: Christmas tree. Presents. Senior moments trying to remember which presents go to whom after forgetting to put tags on the gifts. Christmas breakfast. Afternoon spent in the post-Christmas morning sleepless hangover. I thought I’d hit the in-law jackpot.

Then came dinner.

When my mother in law pulled the turkey out of the fridge to begin cooking, the bird was frozen solid. Somehow it had gotten pushed so far back in the fridge that it didn’t thaw. So, unless we planned on eating Christmas dinner at 3am, we had to figure out something else.

So we went out for Christmas dinner. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to eat out on Christmas evening, but your options are few and far between. The only place we could find open was a Betos – the rock bottom, pit of despair version of a Mexican fast food restaurant.

As we walked in to the mariachi-style Feliz Navidad blaring over the tinny speakers, I half expected cockroaches to scatter. If the health inspector had ever been to this place, he must have been missing at least three of his senses and even then must have taken a hefty bribe to give the establishment a grade of: It Probably Won’t Kill You ... Immediately, But Why Take the Risk Unless It’s Christmas Evening And You Have Nowhere Else to Eat.

Don’t get my wrong. I love Mexican food. And the more of a hole in the wall it is, the better I like it. But this went beyond hole in the wall to the realm of buried nine feet under.

As my brother in law bemoaned his fate, my then-5-year-old sister-in-law was having the time of her life, singing along to the Christmas tunes with tacos in her hands. It was eerily like a scene out of the holiday classic A Christmas Story. The only thing missing was the waiters struggling to sing “Deck the Halls.” Though, to be fair, it was all the teenage boy behind the counter could do to get my order right in the first place so it didn’t seem right to ask much more from him.

Thankfully, I survived with minimal food poisoning. I chalked the experience up to a freak disaster. Surely something this bizarre couldn’t happen again. Right?


Fast forward a year. Different holiday. Thanksgiving this time. My favorite holiday of the year. It celebrates everything I love: gluttony, laziness and football. What could possibly go wrong with a holiday with a turkey as the main attraction?

Oh wait.

Fortunately, we’d all learned a lesson from last year’s disaster and the turkey was thawed and beautifully cooked.

As I laid into the cheese ball while watching football, all seemed right in the world. My moment of bliss was disturbed by a scream of panic from my mother in law: “Lice!”

At first I thought she was joking, but there couldn’t be anything more serious. Or disgusting.

Let me explain. My in-laws are very generous people and did foster care for years. There was one girl they grew rather attached to, and when that girl’s birth mother had to work on Thanksgiving, she was invited to spend the holiday with us. Somehow, my mother in law had discovered lice crawling in her hair.

Instantly, everyone went into panic mode. The hazmat suit my wife gave me for Christmas the year before suddenly didn’t seem so strange.

My mother in law scrubbed this poor girl's head raw with anti-lice shampoo, while the rest of us spent the afternoon scouring the house to get rid of any bugs or eggs that may have been laid.

I never came closer than three feet to this girl, but spent the rest of the day scratching at phantom itches, psyching myself out that I’d somehow contracted lice. I even considered shaving my head, but stopped short when I remembered I look like a neo Nazi when I’m bald.

When we finally sat down to eat Thanksgiving dinner, nobody had any appetite left. I couldn’t help but examine every forkful of turkey with suspicion, convinced it was crawling with lice.

Since then, we’ve also enjoyed such holiday delights as No-Carpet 4th of July, Grandma Fainting in My Arms New Year’s Eve, and Don’t Pick Fights with Short Guys Dressed in Green Because You Think They Look Like Real-Life Leprechauns.

In the moment, each of these events seemed like real-life Twilight Zone episodes, but with time they have become some of the most memorable holiday experiences. Because let’s face it: we all have dysfunctional families. And that’s OK. What’s important is making great memories with them.

Even if it does involve lice and food poisoning.

Can't get enough Holiday mishaps? has a fantastic selection of my favorite holiday mishap comics including What Happens 2.6 seconds before the Family Holiday Picture and Fantasy vs. Reality: The Holiday Party. is the perfect place to unwind and laugh after the kids are in bed, whether it be about the holidays or any other topic. You can also find NickMom on Facebook.


Jill @ Being Spiffy said...

And now I know where your daughter gets it. :D

Vicky @ Mess For Less said...

Just imagine what awaits you this year!

marissa | Rae Gun Ramblings said...

I"m glad you can laugh at that turkey/food poisoning fiasco now! oh my goodness. and how stinking cute was your little one. she was so so little!!!

Whit said...

Oh my goodness this is hilarious and sad and so seems like a movie lol thanks for the laugh

Amber Brady said...

Oh my gosh! Glad you have a good sense of humor b/c I would be a mess if those things happened!

Bonnie @HobbytoHOT said...

Ode to the adventures of life! What a graceful way to take it in strides, props to you!

Summer Rumsey said...

Love these stories! Good to see that I am not the only one dealing with a little "crazy" each year.

sonja.clawson said...

Seth, is there a reason you didn't mention this post? Soooooooo glad you have a sense of humor. Normal is way over rated, don't you think. Love you to the tippy toe! Your monster-in-law

Becky @ Utah Sweet Savings said...

Oh my goodness. I'm dying over here! Glad we aren't the only ones with crazies!

Summer @ Banana Hammocks & Tutus said...

OH my gosh, stop it, stop it, stop it! LIIIICE! We found out my eldest had lice 2 hours before our rehearsal dinner. An infestation of full-grown bugs in his white-blonde hair. I'm not sure HOW I missed that my little 7 year old had an infestation of epic proportions in his hair, but it ruined my wedding. OK, not entirely, but it was really difficult to enjoy my wedding and short honeymoon knowing that I'd have to go home and completely sanitize the entire house and all of our clothing. Maybe I shouldn't have just admitted that to the world. Oh well, there's nothing quite like NickMom (and this post) to make me feel normal. :) #client