Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Eve at Familia Leta, Hyacinth Level

Familia Leta throws a great holiday party, and the party is great on more than on level. Today I'll explain level one, the Hyancinth Level.

Familia Leta does things right. The lawn is weeded and cut. The garaged is spacious and organized. The kitchen is clean, even when it is in full use. The turkey is stuffed and basted. The lemons are decoratively sliced and the stemware, delicate and unadorned, is spotless, up-ended next to the well-considered assortment of wines, which is, of course, adjacent to the ice bucket, liquor, and mixers. There are snacks, like baked brie and homemade hummus and Brazil nuts and shaved salmon and capers. If you wander into the bathroom, you'll find antique Irish linens and a floor so clean you'd let your baby eat off it. I myself would wouldn't hesitate to chew the toilet seat (for $5). It's that clean.

When you enter Familia Leta's house, you leave your shoes (because shoes transmit the urine and mucuus globs of vagrants into the house; everyone knows that) in the garage, make yourself a drink, and start talking, because the people to talk to are well worth the conversation.

Cast of Characters, Chez Leta:

Bev, matriarch, setter and maintainer of stratosphereic standards. Despite the neverending seige against imperfection, Bev's anxiety level never seems to rise above zero, even when a child of three comes in from the back yard wearing muddy sneakers - even if that child is also carrying a dead possum tail. She simply removed the offending sneakers and animal remains, subtly disinfects the child, secures the perimeter and offers some hanger on, someone like me, an refresher Dark and Stormy (tm).* Bev runs a tight ship. She does everything and she does it right. She is not even kidding.

Bill, patriarch, runs Huge Money Making Company, plays soccer in a local over-sixty league, and dotes on his grandchildren. I have watched him run back and forth across the yarn dodging water balloons or, uh, a plastic sling propelled chicken for an entire afternoon. He never seems to tire. If you mention the perfection of Bev, his wife, he will say "She does everything. I do nothing." Then he will drop an involuntary tear and say, " I am a lucky man."

Tiff, daugher one, is the CFO of Extra Fancy Money (so plentiful you have to stack it up the the ceilings in the corners they are so not kidding about being rich) Company, and she, swanlike beautiful wisp of a creature, spends the entirety of the holiday party tapping on her Blackberry, approving and declining things none of us understand. We do understand that her driver's name is Carl and her private jet, while not currently in operation, is the good one, not the one people buy on the cheap when they are trying to look cool. Tess knows a fundamental truth that none of us can really know until we have so much money that we are stacking it up to the ceilings to save space: be beautiful, run the world, and always buy the good one. Unless we are talking about children's clothing. Those things you can buy on Ebay.

Leta, daughter two, is married to my brother. She is exactly like her mother... plus she is a free-lance writer and garden designer. I once helped Leta bushwack through the woods bordering the train station to find a stump with moss on it. Not just any moss, mind you, but moss of a certain color. When we found the righ stump with the right moss, we dug it up and wheeled it back to the house in red wagon. It is now the focal point of a butterfly garden. It's perfecty-perfect. As is she.

Pearl, mother of Dustin and Pixie and sister of Bev. She knitted socks for the entire family this year, including the hangers on like me. If you don't think that's just incredible, you've never knitted socks before. She is delighted by everything and everyone, including me, even though I am not even remotely related to her. I do not understand this.

Dustin, son of Pearl, tall and handsome cousin of Leta, and our Santa Claus. He is a professional skeptic, ie, he runs an organization of skeptical people and gets paid to question everything. If you believe in it, he'll question it. He just ran a project to investigate the scripture of the Mormon church, and he is gearing up to investigate Scientology.

Pixie, daughter of Pearl, MFA poet and fiction writer, creative writing professor and honestly the thinnest person I have ever seen who is not afflicted with an eating disorder. She eats everyhing. She gains nothing. I'd hate her if she were not so smart and funny and perfect.

Ezra, husband of Pixie, Native American (or Indian, as you like) poet and enlisted Army man. That's right... a firearms expert and engineer in the miliary who also got an MFA in poetry.

Ana, four year old daughter of Tiff. Ava is painfully shy and delightfully sweet natured. She might take all day to warm up to you, but when she does, she'll give you one of her crackers and fashion you an apron out of yellow playdough. Because she loves you.

Liam, three year old son of Buzz and Leta. He specializes in plastic tool belts and fire hats, matchbox cars, and foam core carpentry. He loves soy milk and apple juice. He has never had a bite of meat in his entire life. Because we don't eat animals. They don't like that.

If one were to wander into Familia Leta's house accidentally, one would think the entire bunch were cut out of a catalog and pasted into a house out of Awesome Living magazine. But when I call it the Hyacinth Level, I am getting it all wrong, of course. They do not aim to impress. They behave the way they behave because they are who they are. Baked brie, tree stumps, piles of cash, skepticism, poetry, socks, playdough aprons, plastic construction equipment - these are the things they are passionate about and they don't care one farthing whether others approve or disapprove - or even notice. It takes an hour among Familia Leta to learn this. It takes about three hours to learn about the second Level, which I will write about tomorrow.**

*The Dark and Stormy (tm) is ginger beer and rum. (Please note: ginger beer, not ginger ale). The Dark and Stormy got its name because the first time we made it, there was a late day thunderstorm that was a real banger - hail, inky black clouds, rattling wind gusts... it was dark and stormy as we drank The Dark and Stormy.

**Skip these posts if you are bored. I feel like writing about my family, and for once, I am not being hateful. So thanks if you're planning on hanging in there for it. If not, see you January 1st.


123Valerie said...

Oh, I love Brit coms. I also wish my name was Pearl, only because it sounds slightly dirty.

Kate P said...

The Hyacinth reference is hilarious. (Does it mean you had a "candlelight supper"?) You really have a knack for detailed descriptions and I love a good story!

country roads said...

My mom carries on like Hyacinth. But more in the Buck-et way than in a good way :-P

I watch that show every week. I made her watch it once or twice and she just laughed and said "that woman's crazy. I couldn't imagine living with someone like that." :-/

You just gained about a million points :-)

The only thing missing from this comment is more smileys.

Effortlessly Average said...

::waves $5::

Ok, let's see it.

Maggie said...

My mum is very Hyacenthy as well, and also in the Bucket-y, non-good way. Strange thing is, she watches and LOVES that show.

Pre-discovery of show, I used to compare her to Mrs. Bennett in P&P. She found this very flattering...

Regarding Dark and Stormies, one of my fave drinks and thankfully becoming easier and easier to find in bars thanks to a Gosling's PR campaign . . . Are you saying you guys named them? Did your family invent my fave drink? That would be too excellent!

Chet said...