As I may or may not have made clear earlier, I was invited to guest blog for this estimable site in part to promote my newest book, Everything Is Going To Be Great, a memoir of the two mostly disastrous but nostalgically wonderful years I spent living in Europe after college.
Most of this time was spent in Amsterdam, where I was also lucky enough to spend the winter holidays. Christmas in the Netherlands is very different than it is here. Christmas is a holiday to spend with your family, getting drunk and eating ham, a Thanksgiving-esque festival, whereas the feast of Sinterklaas, about a month earlier, is really top banana.
Sinterklaas carries with it some interesting traditions--not the least those brilliantly chronicled by David Sedaris. But my favorite tradition involves the giving gifts, or more precisely, the giving of gifts accompanied by pithy rhyming poems detailing the ways in which one's family members have disappointed one. (This may have inspired the the traditional "airing of grievances" we have been told is a cherished part of Festivus.)
As we are coming up on the part of summer where everyone hates one another and themselves and hope the kids go back to school before one is forced to lay waste to everything in sight, I thought it might be amusing, not to say cathartic, to attempt such an endeavor here. Send your rhyming poems about your family's most abominable traits to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. At the end of the week I will post them, and send everyone who contributes a signed copy of my new book. Sound fair? (If you don't want the book, because you hate me or you can't read, I'll send you something else. Like a candy cane and a used tissue. I'm not going to tell you what I used it for.)
We're under strict instructions not to post our own poetry here, but I thought it couldn't hurt to offer up a couple of my very humble examples as the genre, which in turn might inspire your far superior efforts. If I may:
To a Beloved Mother Who Never Loved Me
From the time I was a baby
Til I'm ninety-three of four
I always will be conscious
That you loved my sister more.
You trusted her with secrets
In her you did not doubt
You left her all your jewelry
And I was left without.
So when you open up this gift
I hope that you will see
A big fat lot of nothing
'Cause that's all you gave to me.
Get the idea? I'll just show you one more.
For a Very Special Alcoholic
Do you remember how you puked on stage
At high school graduation?
Or how you used to pee yourself
At each act of copulation?
I don't think I'll forget the night
You smashed up Rhonda's car
Or the time you gave that convict head
In a filthy roadside bar.
So here my friend, my gift to you
For your ever empty cup
A nice big vat of whisky
Come on, you lush, drink up!
I think that should give you the idea. And terribly, terribly sorry for this egregious bending of the rules. Please have fun, and please contribute! I can't wait to hear how much you hate your family, even though you also love them.