Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Family Tradition: The Angel From Hell.

HO, HO, HO, Mistletoe, and Happy Holidays, friends.

My parents just finished hosting a holiday gathering here on old Parkview Avenue, the presents are almost wrapped, and I'm exhausted, in a wonderful way.

Listening to all of the guests tell stories of days gone by, happy holidays, and family traditions made me want to share one of my favorite "new" family "traditions" with you all. That, and I feel like this gives you an even larger window into my life and why I'm the way I am.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you "The Angel From Hell."

So, hear me out. Several years ago, my Mom decided it was time for a new angel to adorn the top of our living room Christmas tree (the living room Christmas tree is always a live Frasier fir, hosts all of the nice family ornaments, while the "kids tree" is in the family room with bubble lights, colored lights, peppermint lights, and all of the "less than Southern Living-esque" ornaments aka all of the ornaments we made as children. I'm just kidding, the two trees are the result of having way too many ornaments for even one large tree. At least that's what the Queen Mum tells us.) So, Mom's on this hell-bent mission to replace the angel. The angel we had always had was very nice, short blonde hair, angelic, sweet face, white dress, nice wings, and her whole life ahead of her. However, she was out. Mom shopped, searched, and even considered alternatives like a star, a bow, or even one those retro tree toppers with the glass spike on top of the ball. However, she finally came home with this beauty. She's a good 16.5 inches tall, jet black hair, and a very stern face. She's nicely dressed, has gold wings, and can def. hold her own. However, she just looked so stern and not, well, angelic.

My Dad, who leaves the bulk of the indoor, Holiday decor to my Mom took an immediate stance against this angel, really disliking her. He nicknamed her Harriet Beecher Stowe based on the stern old portraits and black hair. So, where is this story going? Here it is. She sat atop the living room Christmas tree that first year. However, after that she was banished and replaced by a different angel. However, my Mom kept her around and she found a new home atop the piano. In response to Harriet remaining a part of our Holiday decor, my Dad decided to have a little fun with both her and my Mom.

My Dad started by fashioning a pair of small sunglasses for Harriet, the angel out of Christmas tree hook wire and construction paper. He placed them ever so gently on her head, and waited to see if anyone ever noticed. Family, guests, and my Mom, of course, noticed. Everyone got such a kick out of it, a new tradition for my father was born. He said he made the glasses to cover up her stern, serious eyes, and "soften her." However, since the birth of her sunglasses, My Dad now dreams up something new to add to Harriet, the Angel from Hell, every year. It's our job as members of this household to see if we can figure out what's new. The next year, in addition to her sunglasses, Harriet was holding a small bottle of champagne and a cigarette in her hands (I don't even know where you find a mini, plastic bottle of champagne--maybe Barbie gets snockered these days?). The next year, like everyone else in our household, Harriet showed her love for the University of Virginia by sporting the traditional orange, block V on the chest of her dress. This year, I came home, ran to the piano, and realized my Dad had not let me down. Harriet now sports 2, mismatched Christmas light earrings. He also decided to give her cigarette a filter (he said he was worried the original looked too much like a joint--please keep in mind, my parents don't drink or smoke. Go figure.)

So, needless to say, I, my brother, sister, Mother, brother-in-law, and all of our other holiday guests always look forward to the next Christmas and to see where my father's off-beat sense of humor has taken him and Harriet. I have a feeling one year she will have cleavage...her dress is just begging for it. I also feel like she may get a shoulder bag, a chest tattoo, and some kind of feet to stick out from underneath her dress. I just have a feeling. Maybe I have the same sense of humor as my Dad? Needless to say, welcome to my world. If nothing else, Harriet reminds us all to enjoy the Holidays and not take things so seriously. It's way too easy to get all wrapped up (no pun intended) in all of the hustle and bustle of the season. Just know, in my parents very traditional, Southern, colonial, cape cod sits an angel, on the piano, drinking champagne, smoking her Virginia slim, loving the 'HOOS, and being pretty damn fabulous.

Happy Holidays, Harriet. Happy Holidays, all.



  1. Ed,

    This would make a fun TV story. Please give me a call.

    David Foky