I’ve been a vegetarian for eight years.
So when I walked in the other day with no less than 10 boxes of "Hamburger Helper," I got some strange looks.
"They were 10 for $10," I exclaimed with bargain-shopper glee. "And we don’t even have to cook it with anything. It’s just fine by itself."
To which my husband replied, "OK, Cousin Eddie."
So to honor Cousin Eddie and his kin from the ever popular "Vacation" movie series, I think back to some of my family’s yuletide adventures.
The first I can remember comes in a groggy haze. This may be because Mama was dragging me through the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport with a 104-degree fever and the flu.
We lived in California at the time, and at age 8, my short little legs couldn’t keep up with Mama’s fervor to make it to our South Carolina family for Christmas.
If I remember correctly, we watched that flight leave without us. Although we had made it on time, we were sitting at the wrong gate. No wonder I throw up every time I think about flying.
The next memory comes from a time when I was 9 and we lived in Chicago.
Mama ordered $400 worth of icicle lights so that our first Chicago Christmas could be lit up like the North Pole. Unfortunately, we didn’t know quite how similar the climate would be to the actual North Pole.
They don’t call Chicago the "windy city" for nothing.
And as I remember watching my parents get blown all around the roof in negative 30-degree wind chill during a blizzard that day after Thanks–giving, I recall why we now live below the Mason-Dixon line.
As I happened upon those very same icicle lights in our Christmas decoration boxes this year, I could still hear Daddy cussing up a storm.
And in a scene straight out of "Christmas Vacation," when they plugged the lights in that night, two strands didn’t work.
When Mama called the light company to complain, she was told the lights didn’t work in sub-zero weather.
The whole neighborhood could hear her yelling at the poor lady on the phone: "We’re from the South, ma’am. It’s just not supposed to get this cold."
The next winter, we discovered how difficult it can be to lift a Rottweiler from a standing position.
To protect her feet from the ice, we bought our Rottweiler, Lady, a set of puppy booties. We thought they were cute.
She thought the world was ending and that we’d somehow strapped cement blocks to her little puppy feet.
We had to carry her to a spot in the snow to let her do her business, and then carry her back inside. This did wonders for my dad’s pride.
We also got a set of these booties for my cat, Little Bit. She, however, realized she had claws, and showed much less tolerance.
Little Bit simply used the previous footprints to hop through the snow. Imagine combing a Persian after that fiasco.
Twelve years later, we’re in a climate where it’s possible to put up your Christmas decorations in a tank top.
Although when it did snow here last year, my husband and I could’ve used some of Clark Griswold’s "special sled spray."
We discovered that all a cardboard box does is help you plant your face in the driveway.
This year, thankfully, the only disaster we’ve been subjected to so far is our cats’ affinity for "undecorating" and climbing the Christmas tree.
My parents did threaten to bring the motor home to family Christmas at our house, however. So let’s hope nobody lights a match near the storm drain.
Merry Christmas y’all.
Autumn Vetter is a Forsyth County News staff photographer.