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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Murphy’s Mischief

Murphy’s Law states that if something can go wrong, it will go wrong. When I consider the treasure trove of horror stories I’ve accumulated throughout my years as an Army BRAT, one vividly comes to mind.

It was our first holiday season without my father. He’d just left for Iraq, leaving us behind in one of the most boring, socially and intellectually primordial cities in all of Texas. Traditionally, we set up our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. This time, however, we didn’t have it in us. Thanksgiving dinner itself was horrific.

The oven went haywire and either blackened or woefully undercooked the meats and pies. The motor to the blender died after twenty years of dutiful service, leaving horrendous chunks in anything meant for puree. Even the water failed miserably, as the water filter in the sink ruptured and leaked shards of charcoal into the bottoms of our glasses.

Our guests chewed their food politely, swallowing with difficulty. We spent the previous weeks bragging about a wide array of delicious family recipes: Mother’s baked beans, Grandmother’s scalloped potatoes and green bean casserole, Dad’s humus, my own apple and peach cobblers. Being only fifteen, it was the first year I was responsible for so many dishes. As the guests choked on every bite, they must have thought we were all crazy. Old hat to things going awry, we maintained a light air of optimism. Failing to keep a sense of humor in a military family leads only to nervous breakdowns and lonely nights. We hadn’t yet lost hope for Christmas, though we had no way of knowing what was to come.

The next day everything seemed to run as planned until the washing machine dropped a water bomb on the floor like a pregnant woman in labor. My brother and I waded through the flood in sandals, tossing the sopping clothes into the dryer two by two. We pressed the large button and heard a familiar hum, raising our fists into the air in victory. That is, until ten seconds later when the dryer’s motor died. We splashed into the kitchen in defeat, my mother already pulling frozen meat from a broken refrigerator.

By the end of the night we hung newly purchased dollar store clotheslines across the living room in a way that would put Mission Impossible to shame. From all angles, fans dried the linens and carpet. We ended up buying a twelve-inch fibre-optic Christmas tree under which a saltine cracker wouldn’t fit. That year, our gift to one another was our company. Though we were wet, cold, and hungry, we still had a very merry Christmas.

Read the other three Holiday Stories: Click the following links to read Undercover French, The Little Christmas Strongman and Merry Fishmas.