Manners & Misdemeanors
Truly Rich Christmas: The People You Meet At Your Family Reunion
From the drunk uncle to the nosy aunt to the petulant teenage niece you want to smack on the head.
ILLUSTRATOR SANDY ARANAS
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Today is Christmas Day, the birthday of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and also, on this year, the 63rd anniversary of the Coo Family Reunion.

All sorts of relatives are driving or flying to Pink House, where our Truly Rich Grandmother holds court and serves the most delicious Christmas Day feast of turkey, prime rib, lobster, all sorts of lovely side dishes, trifles, strawberry shortcake, and more.

There will be people I am excited to see again as well as people I’d rather not be in the same room with.

There will be genuine cheer and veiled comments and maybe, if the gods are on our side, another amusing episode of Drunk Uncle Sings Old Standard. I can already hear Grandmother whispering in my ear: “Tsk-tsk, child. Please be friendly to everyone… Even the fools.”

Your Grandmother
She is the Queen of Christmas and all the eye can see (on this side of town). She is no longer the fearsome creature from youth, because time has mellowed her. Instead of computing finances, she now does entertaining, decorating, and moonlight gardening. She also still gives me Christmas gifts, because I am undoubtedly the favorite. Sorry, others!

The Sister of Your Grandmother Whom You Are Not Close To
She is as old as sin and very cranky—all the time. I heard that an evil man broke her heart a long time ago, but no one talks about it anymore. Nevertheless, she is the best cook! Her paella is topnotch.

The Uncle Who Is Always Drinking
While I love Champagne and bellinis, I cannot catch up with Uncle George, who has already rounded up (read: coerced) people into a drinking session. It’s only 10 a.m.!

The Aunt Who Talks Like A Tita of Manila
I am unsure about Tita Tita’s upbringing. Was she the one whose family fell on hard times and had to move to another part of town? Her volume is always loud and the things she talks about are a little strange. She is always hollering about this and that. She’s funny though.

The Aunt Who Has No Filter
I insist on sitting beside Unfiltered Aunt because she says the darndest things. Her children chide her about her mouthiness; I think they should just let her be, because who else will say that Magda, Second Wife of Uncle Mario, should stop wearing baby clothes. “Your bosom, dear. They are pouring onto the dinner plate."

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The Plus One Who Does Not Speak
Marie Martha’s new boyfriend sure looks like a fish out of water or a frightened cat or a statue. I’ve already brought up the weather (“Oh yes, it’s cold now”), the drive (“We brought our driver), and the food (“I’m good”), but he is not budging. I am dying!

The Plus One Who Feels Like Family
By contrast, Andrea Anna’s new boyfriend is fitting in nicely. This latest find is cordial, genial, smile-y, and most important in situations like this, smart. He can jump into any kind of conversation, from table arrangement to dreaded politics, in a flash. Also, he said I look like Andrea’s sister. She’s my niece!

The Kids
I am sure they have names, but I just lump them all together like one big mass of noisy or crying blur.

The Petulant Teenage Girl Whom You Want To Smack On The Head
I would much rather be in the company of Hung Over Nephew Who Flew Straight From A Beach Bender than this know-it-all. Just because your family has had triple-plus earnings this year, doesn’t mean you are queen of the world. And just because you have the plump, glowy skin of someone who is on the right side of time, doesn’t mean you more beautiful than...er...I will stop now.

The Cousin Who Is Also Single Like Me
Thank you, baby Jesus! I am always happy to find someone else in the same boat. It’s the best way to ward off unsolicited questions such as “When are you getting married?” or  “No boyfriend yet?” and my favorite “Why are you still single?” This year our answer is: “It is because I would rather live in sin.”

The Show-Off Cousin from the Rival Family
Yes, yes, I see your entry-level luxury bag. No need to remind me again that this was flown in especially for you. What? The buckle? Gold? I see. To match your shiny 24-karat bracelets and day watch. Excuse me. I have to pee.

The Humbled Uncle Whose Business Tanked
Ha. Last year, he told me how it was “such a shame” that I did not choose to be more involved in business, because he has had so much success. “I just bought another house and an island,” he said. Now, he’s selling me both house and island at a heavy discount. No thanks...

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The Aggressively Pleasant Husband of Relative
The only explanation for his perma-smile are the following: He is trying to hide something, has just taken hallucinogenic mushrooms (please share), is holding a fart.

Your Yaya
Old Yaya! How I missed you! Let us hide in your room and eat Danish cookies, while you brush my hair. I need a break from these people!

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C.C. Coo
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