Pillows.

I suppose every family has their own embarrassing stories to tell about past Christmases. Or embarrassing relatives, or embarrassing things said after too much eggnog. And maybe not even so much embarrassing – or, okay, embarrassing at the time, but now on reflection, it’s just friggin’ hysterical. Which is why stories like these are often told and retold over and over and over again. It becomes a yearly tradition in and of itself.

One of mine involves my grandpa John. Okay, several involve my grandpa John, because of his penchant for eggnog – more nog than egg, the nog being Jim Beam. Falling into the Christmas tree and knocking it over comes to mind – or holding up one of his grandkids and My Nana hated his love for Jim, and the scolding and yelling involving his holiday cheer continue to remain fond memories – Oh, there she goes again – and there HE goes again. He eventually resorted to hiding his treasure throughout the house – as a teenager I’d try and locate it for obvious reasons. Once I found a pint bottle hidden in the toilet tank – nice and cool from the water. I was completely surprised and had to cover my mouth or else give myself away by howling with laughter. I had some of course – it was a new bottle after all and I didn’t think he’d mind.

Anyway, one of the Christmas traditions we had at Nana’s was that after stuffing our faces, we’d retire to the living room and talk into the wee hours. Often it was the only time we as a family saw each other that entire year so we’d share, reminisce, tell dirty jokes, then laugh some more.

One year, John had had too much nog (imagine that), and so excused himself to go upstairs. A *long* while later, my Dad excused himself to use the downstairs facilities. Before he turned on the light, he heard a loud snore, one to raise the dead. He stared up at the ceiling, shaking his head, muttered, “Damn John…” and turned on the light.

Shortly thereafter he returned to the living room, but didn’t sit down. He remained there silent, until one of us asked, “What is it?”

He replied, “We’re gonna need a couple-a pillows.”

“Huh?” we all responded.

He repeated, “We’re gonna need a couple-a pillows.”

When we still looked perplexed, he added, “John’s asleep in the bathtub.”

And we howled with laughter. So much laughter I know the whole neighborhood heard it. My whole body shook and tears ran down my face. My stomach hurt from the force of it like I’d been punched. It was the best laugh I’ve had before or since. To this day if there’s a problem, I’ll look at my family and say, “We’re gonna need a couple-a pillows,” and the laughter returns.

Now am I retelling this to laugh at my own relative’s expense? Hell no. I don’t write about this to pull any skeletons out, and I certainly don’t judge liquor-related antics, I’ve got too many of my own to do that. It’s not my place to tell tales out of school and maybe people will yell at me for airing laundry better left hidden. My family certainly will. I write about it because I remember it and because dammit, I admire him for his Jim Beam love. Hell, I love it too. He is unapologetic, he’s nonjudgmental, he’s loud and uncouth and who gives a shit. I’m that way too. Good for you John.

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