Strove to find a way to punch people in the face by using the Internet.


Like a Small Riot, Really, Only with Better Food
I think the photos pretty much speak for themselves, so I'm skipping the intro. I'll try to put them into context on a per-photo basis as best as my shattered psyche will let me.

I will say this, though: God help the fucker who tries to get in between the Hughes family and a good time. God help them.

11:00 A.M. — Arrive at Dad's. Brother Craig, AKA Hughes Spokesperson #2, is of course fishing. Here you can see him communing with a member of the mullet family, a breed that common knowledge says you can't catch on a traditional hook and line rig. As you can see here, though, even the fickle mullet is not immune to Craig's charm. I think fish in general are attracted to his yellow rain slicker and generally beardy, nautical demeanor. Yes, he's one goddamn corncob pipe away from adorning a box of Mrs. Paul's, and the fish seem to dig it. Excelsior! ...I don't know why I just said that.

11:45 A.M. — I am fascinated, yet mildly terrified, by this squat, Santa-based homonculus.

12:30 P.M. — My stepmom breaks out the appetizers. Everything combines meat and cheese in delicious, heart-stoppingly creative arrangments.

Oh, you might think those are pieces of pumpernickel bread under those lumps of meat and cheese, but you'd be wrong. I think they're actually formed from a paste made with suet and liquid bacon.

Mmmm... I find it relaxing, you know, the feeling you get when time slows down and your arteries collapse.

2:00 P.M. — Time to open presents. Uncle Bob gets a sword. Don't tell his parole officer.

I got the best shit this year... Three months of kickboxing training, and this first edition of Milton's Paradise Lost.

This is what Craig got his mom, my stepmother. A kit for making Jello shots. How awesome is that? Answer: really, really awesome.

3:30 P.M. — Ooh, did someone say Jello shots? Hell fucking yeah.

Family Jello shots. Fuck if I'm not getting all Christmas-y just looking at this.

4:30 P.M. — I'm loaded.

This dog is not drinking a beer. As far as you know.

I took about 400 photos just like this.

In fact, I took about 400 photos of people drinking all kinds of shit, but I didn't feel like downloading 'em all. You should pretty much just assume that for each one of the photos posted here, there are about 60 of people randomly pounding beers still in my camera.

Until she's two, the baby is only allowed to do half shots.

"...and so when when I know I'm going to get all drunk at some point in the day, I put the kneebrace on down around my ankle so I can just slide it up. If I remember."

Dad knows some karate.

5:30 P.M. — Time for supper! We start off with my sister's famous ramen noodle salad. This is made by frying uncooked ramen noodles in handfuls of butter, and putting the crunchy goodness on lettuce. We eat this every Christmas.

And of course the beloved meat makes its appearance...

...along with our old friend cheese, here melted around a novel cubed-potato delivery system.

7:00 P.M. — Chasing the beers, Jello shots, meat, cheese and wine with a few after-dinner liqeuers really helps you feel light on your feet, and also eases the crushing pain of being alive.

8:00 P.M. — This man is dancing to Kool & the Gang's Greatest Hits album, played at a volume usually reserved for accidents in fireworks factories. Other albums in the Christmas rotation: the greatest hits of the Bee Gees, the new Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, the first Aswad album and, oddly, some album by '80s one-hit wonders the Fine Young Cannibals. This last selection totally mystified me and my brother Neil.
"Dad, what are you doing with a Fine Young Cannibals CD, anyway?" Neil asked, after the third time the damn thing came on.
"Whah? I've had that CD for 25 years."
"Dad, you haven't had a CD player for 25 years! They haven't even been making CDs for 25 years!"
"Ahhh, shut up, you know what I mean."
To this day, the mystery remains unsolved.

8:30 P.M. — Somehow, during all the mayhem, Craig manages to catch this fine redfish off of Dad's dock. The redfish has apparently made him really, really high.

Things start to get ugly during the push-up contest. Fooled by the misleadingly doughy Hughes physique, my brother-in-law challenges Neil. Not exactly the type of guy to take a bet he doesn't know he can win, Neil handily dispatches the challenge, almost doubling my brother-in-law's count with a set of 39. This might not sound like much, but remember by this point Neil has had about 9 beers, 12 pounds of meat and cheese, who knows how many Jello shots and enough cookies and candy and assorted Christmas goodies to give a Keebler elf diabetes. Anyway, Neil smokes the brother-in-law, and you can see in the second photo that, just as Dad predicted, an argument ensues over proper push-up form.

After the push-up competition, Craig hosts a viewing of a tape featuring his last backyard boxing match. During the bout, Craig gets drunk, blasts the Lightning Bolt CD I burned him for inspiration, gets two black eyes and whoops his opponent's ass. This too is all pretty goddamn predictable. But fun to watch nonetheless.

9:00 P.M. To the untrained eye, this might look like Zombie Dad is using his large kitchen knife to referee a fight between Neil (wielding flowers) and Craig (brandishing a fearsome bottle of Bushmill's). This, however, is not the case. They are dancing to Aswad.

More dancing. Around this time, everyone but the core Hughes clan left. Other guests had included an uncle and aunt, a few family friends and a nice vacationing British couple the uncle and aunt had met a few nights before in a bar.
"This is so nice. We've never had a proper American Christmas before," they said. (When they first arrived.)

On the way out, Uncle Bob mentions that he once wrestled an orangutang when he was in the military. He brings this up literally as he's on his way out the door. Desperate for details and aghast that someone could drop a bomb like this and then just split, we drag him back in for a minute or two and pester him with questions. Turns out those things are super tough and he lost.

10:00 P.M. — Craig continues to dance as Dad gets comfy. Soon after this, Dad took off his belt and wrapped it around his fist like he was going to use it to clobber somebody. He said he just needed a place to put the belt, but we all know he really had clobberin' on his mind.

11:00 P.M. — My memory starts to get hazy around this point of the night, but judging from this photo of Craig we're about an hour away from going totally Lord of the Flies.

11:30 P.M. — And so it begins. Please note: I did not take this picture. This is what happens when you give Neil a camera. At this point, I was actually sitting at the dining room table, randomly calling friends on my cell phone and yelling obscenities at them. Thankfully, this was captured on videotape by my brothers, so the next morning the whole family could enjoy 10 minutes of me slurring increasingly elaborate, unpleasant strings of profanity while looking kind of like the beat-up, bloated love child of Elvis Costello and Penn Jillette.

12:30 A.M. — Brother-in-law accidentally smashes a glass, makes the crucial mistake of bending over to clean it up in front of Craig.

This is right before my brother-in-law just snapped.

Yep, it ain't Christmas until someone strips down and starts wreaking semi-naked havoc.

Still smarting over his push-up drubbing, he was running around, caressing his chest hair and taunting my step-mother: "YOU WISH YOUR BABIES COULD GROW CHEST HAIR LIKE THIS!!!" He also threw in several lines from Van Halen songs, most notably "Panama."

Anyway, after a few minutes of this, the babies woke up and started crying, so my sister put the kibosh on everything and hauled her husband off to their bedroom, where he commenced to being sick. We listened to them argue on the baby monitor for a minute or two, and after the parents hit the sack I staggered upstairs to pass out. Neil and Craig went downstairs to watch the videotape of the night's events, chug more beers and lift weights. At 3:30 they burst in to where I was sleeping, began mocking my tiny, ineffective blanket and semi-successfully delivered to me several punches to the balls.

The next day Craig, Dad and I ate some melted cheese and ground beef and watched two hours of Mexican wrestling. We got to see a guy with a mohawk piledriver a midget who was wearing overalls and a monkey mask. Everyone agreed Christmas was a success.


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