This has nothing to do with golf. Hey, it’s the off-season, and I’m taking it off. Instead, I thought I’d share a little Feherty family history with you.
This year, my mom and dad are in Germany visiting my sister Helen and her family during the holiday season. Whenever members of my family get together for any length of time, some kind of war usually breaks out. So given this year’s venue, I’ve been nervous. I’m pretty sure my father will try to invade Poland or something.
You see, we Fehertys have a long history of pissing each other off in this, the season of goodwill. My earliest memories of this are of my grandmother on my dad’s side and his Auntie Rose, who detested each other, and who met only once a year, on Christmas Day, around the dinner table at our house. My mom always seated them as far apart as possible, lest the daggers they stared at each other would turn into real cutlery.
Gran was a teetotal, Free Presbyterian, tamborine-bashing Salvation Army widow, full of righteous indignation. Auntie Rose was an octogenarian spinster with a chin like an albino hedgehog. If you kissed her, chances were you’d need stitches afterwards. She was also fairly deaf, so when Gran raised her voice, we always knew that a reference to Auntie Rose’s husbandlessness was coming. I loved it!
We — that is, my two sisters and I — were warned every year that we were not to laugh at either of these two old boilers. Every year, I failed miserably. Flatulence — which, as you’ve no doubt noticed, is a recurring theme in these pieces of mine — was one of the things that Auntie Rose was prone to, and because she couldn’t hear it, she assumed no one else could either. On one occasion she was in the process of pulling her chair a little closer to the table when she accidentally (presumably) cut loose with an ear splitting bloomer-blast. There followed about two seconds of absolute silence around the table, and then I burst out laughing so hard that some of the mouthful of food I had shot out through my nose.
“David!” my father yelled, grim faced at me. I laughed even harder. He got up, grabbed his evil 10-year-old by the scruff of the neck and marched me out of the dining room, down the hallway and into the lounge. I thought I was in for it, but instead of walloping me, dad collapsed onto the sofa in tears of mirth. We laughed until our stomachs were sore, and it was only after several failed attempts to get serious that we were able to go back to the table.
Later that night, Gran took her yearly shot at Auntie Rose, who had me cornered under the sprig of mistletoe in the doorway. “Give us a kiss under the mistletoe, darling,” she said. The dreaded moment had come. I braced myself. Then Gran, who had up until then appeared to be engrossed at the TV, bellowed: “You couldn’t get a man to kiss you if he was under anesthesia, never mind mistletoe!” All hell broke loose once more.
This year, I was kind of looking forward to having a quiet Christmas, with just Anita and me, our baby Erin and our two sons, Shey, 10, and Rory, 6, both of whom have a tendency to laugh at inappropriate moments. But, to be honest with you, it was a little too quiet. Next year, we have plans to go to Ireland for the holidays, and for the first time in over 20 years, sit around the same table with the whole family. All too often, as our parents get older, we forget how tolerant they were of us when we were small. I hope I’ve inherited my old man’s memory, specifically the one of what it’s like to be a little boy. I’ve got a feeling I’m going to need it.
Happy New Year everyone, and thank you for all of your letters and E-mails. Back to golf soon!