Christmas, Thumm-style Down Under
[A Christmas special as a spin-off from my novels The Hitch-hiker and
Christmas was encumbered with a monumental family gathering. Every family member imaginable plus a few ring-ins congregated at Grandma Thumm’s for the occasion. What was a logistical nightmare for Minna’s parents, aunts and uncles, was joy for Minna as her favourite cousin Holly visited from Switzerland. But she cringed on spotting Wally. (Grandma had felt sorry for his mum and her older teen charges Wally and Monica). That sense of pity didn’t extend to Minna as that dreaded ring-in, and one time school bully, scowled at Minna. Monica had escaped the Thumm Christmas. Home with a migraine. So, without Monica to protect her, Minna avoided Wally, and concentrated her attention on Holly.
Aunt Sophie, Holly’s mother, rounded the Thumm troops for the traditional family photo in the back garden in front of the grapevine.
The camera got Minna thinking. I wonder…She became quiet and gazed up at the cobalt cloudless sky.
‘Is something wrong?’ Holly snapped her out of sky-gazing, then chuckled. ‘Oh, I know! You’re thinking of some boy.’
‘No!’ Minna shouted. ‘Not boys!’
‘Dinner time!’ Mum called. She rang the bell.
Like lemmings the Thumm clan trooped into Grandma’s kitchen.
As the elders settled around the antique 100-year-old oak table, with a spread of roast turkey, silver and the best china on white linen, Aunt Sophie beckoned to John, Minna’s older brother, ‘You can sit with us, dear, I want to hear all about that telescope you are making.’
Minna sighed, and followed the kids to the “kindertisch” on the back verandah. ‘My luck I’ll end up next to Wally’, she muttered to Holly as they heaped their plates full of the crispiest baked potatoes in the southern hemisphere.
Minna’s words came a reality as she perched on a foldable deck chair at the “kindertisch”. The only seat available for Wally, was next the hers. When he approached the table, paper plate laden into a V-shape from piles of poultry and potato, all the other kids had closed the ranks with their chairs, ensuring no Wally-sized gap existed. Minna, who had been busy discussing the method of making crunchy potato with Holly, had failed to register the Wally-approach. Too late, Wally squeezed his frame between her and Holly. Minna cringed. She would have preferred two Grandmas with wings on either side of her than to be seated next to him.
Wally spoiled what would have been a most pleasant Christmas dinner. As he hoed into his potato salad and smacked his lips together, Minna remarked, ‘You know, you remind me of Gomer Pyle! Where’re you from? Cornball Mississippi South?’
‘Shut up buck tooth Loch Ness Monster!’ Wally replied spraying a mouthful of spud over her plate.
‘Oh! Yuk! Creep germs!’ Minna cried. With that, she tipped the tainted contents over his lap.
‘I’ll get Boris onto you. Or better still, his cockroaches. Ha-ha.’
‘Whoever Boris is. Anyway, you’re one big cockroach.’
‘You dog!’ Wally scraped up a wad of potato and flicked it in her face.
‘How dare you contaminate me!’ She knocked her cola over his trousers. ‘Oops! Looks like someone’s had an accident. Ha! Ha! Wally’s peed himself!’
All the cousins laughed.
‘You cow!’ Wally squealed. His voice cracked and squeaked as if he were a pig.
‘Come, come! What’s going on?’ Grandma poked her head out the back door.
Wally pointed at Minna. ‘The dog did it!’
‘Now, now, that’s not a nice thing to say about your cousin.’ Grandma chided. ‘Dear me, what happened to your pants, Wally?’
‘It was an accident.’ Minna chortled. ‘Wasn’t it, Holly?’
Holly nodded and giggled into her napkin. She had no time for the loathsome Wally either. ‘Yeah, Gran, he had an accident, he peed himself.’ She guffawed.
‘What? Minna threw the drink on me!’ Wally yelped. He brushed the stain with his holly decorated napkin.
‘Now, now, Wally, calm down!’ Grandma reasoned. She waddled her wide-girth body to the table and put an arm around Wally’s shoulder. ‘You must treat girls with respect. You don’t go calling them names like that. Now you say, “Sorry”.’
Wally scowled and muttered, ‘Sorry!’
Satisfied, Grandma went back to her job of hosting the adults who were by this time popping bon-bons and laughing out loud at the lame jokes discovered inside them.
Holly and Minna tittered as they observed Wally move away and seat his slimy self all alone at an extra tiny card table. The paper hat sat crookedly on his greasy scalp.
Minna giggled and said, ‘Hey, Holly, with that salad bowl hair cut and pasty complexion, he looks like the dork from Oz.’
‘Shut up!’ Wally menaced as the girls continued to snigger. He hurled the bone at them. The girls dodged the missile and it landed with a plop in dried up plant pot.
‘Oooh!’ Holly jibed. ‘Respect the ladies, didn’t you hear what Grandma said?’
‘You’re no ladies,’ Wally mumbled.
His mother poked her nose out the window. ‘Wally?’
‘Nothing,’ her son muttered, and with head down, he played with a chicken wing on his plate.
[…to be continued]
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2018
Feature Photo: Christmas Table © L.M. Kling 2006
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