Christmas, though, being a special holiday, sees a few other elements.
Over Christmas Eve dinner, after my mother and I finish arguing about her dissertation or religion or politics or music or my haircut, my father tells his joke. Always the same one. And I haven't the slightest idea why he whips it out only at Christmas, with no apparent recognition that he's told the joke many times before. And what KILLS me, is that he tells it WRONG, every time.
Daddy: Gorbachev has a long one, Bush has a short one, and the Pope has one but doesn't use it. What is it?
Me: (Playing along, but cringing inside) What, Daddy?
Daddy: A penis!
Me: Er, I think the punchline is "a last name."
Daddy: No! It's a PENIS! GET it?!?
But then after the dishes are cleared, I sit at the piano and accompany my father while he sings Moon River in an untrained yet remarkably beautiful baritone, and my mother sits nearby, closes her eyes, and smiles.
And that's when I think that perhaps I wasn't adopted after all.