“Five bucks,” my brother says. “Final offer. Take it or leave it.”
“Leave it,” I reply. It’s Christmas Eve at the Richter house and my brother and I are engaged in our usual holiday ironing negotiations. Every Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas he paws through his closet to come up with some sort of an outfit that will pass muster (aka meet with my mother’s approval) and every year, on account of his inability to hang his clothes properly, his dress shirts look as though they’ve been through some sort of mummification process.
“Come on Kat,” he whines. “I’m only asking you to iron two shirts: one for church tonight and one for dinner tomorrow. That’s $2.50 a shirt!”
“Nope.” I stand my ground and crack another egg into the bowl of whole-wheat chocolate chip cookie dough I’m whipping up for our Christmas Eve dessert.
“But you did it last year!” he protests.
“I was unemployed last year,” I remind him. “Now I have a job. Five actually, and I plan to enjoy my week off.”
“Fine,” he retorts and stomps up the stairs. A few minutes later, after engaging in deadly battle with both the iron and the ironing board, he calls down “Just so you know Kat, Jesus is going to very proud of how nicely I’m ironing my shirt for His birthday.”
“That’s nice,” I call back. “I’m sure He’s thrilled to hear you mocking Him too.”
My brother’s not particularly pious, and nor am I, which is why I suppose it makes perfect sense that our Christmas Eve traditions consist of going to church, trying not to crack up during Silent Night and finally posing for pictures in our new matching pajamas with our wine glasses:
With our dogs:
And with our respective gang signs (obviously my brother is not a bone fide gangsta like the rest of us):
On Christmas Day is when we really pull out all the stops. Some families have a lovely home cooked meal, or spend the day visiting aunts and uncles, or—actually, I’m not sure what normal people do on Christmas because at Casa Richter, we load the back of the car up with Two Buck Chuck and head over to New Jersey for a traditional Hibachi dinner.
“Richter” is not Japanese. Nor is “Echevarria,” my mother’s maiden name. So why do we eat Japanese food on Christmas? Well, it’s a rather long story and while I wish I could report that it’s because my grandparents honeymooned in Japan or my brother has a particular affinity for chopsticks, it’s simply because Ikko Hibachi Restaurant in Toms River is one of the few BYOB establishments open on Christmas, and intergenerational affairs of this sort require booze.
(More on that adventure tomorrow.)