Christmas Lies | Heather Mercer

“If you think you’re enlightened, spend a day with your family.”

– Buddha’s 2nd cousin


Christmas Lies

By Heather Mercer

For The Hairpin Tarpaulin Award


Sally looked around at her in-laws, uncomfortably seated on plastic chairs in her backyard, and sighed. As was customary, their conversation had paused like the flies on the Tasmanian Brie. Sally was determined that today would be fun. And thus completely different to the last twenty McNeil Christmases. Picking up a platter of nibbles she walked over to the nearest group and offered it around, smiling brightly.
Wayne (father-in-law) reached for some Buhja mix.
‘What sort of fellow is he?’ he asked, looking towards a young Indian man who had come with Kirsten (niece). ‘A curry-muncher?’
Oh the horror. I’m just going to ignore that.
‘Turns their skin yellow that Indian food,’ Wayne grumbled.
Sally glanced over to Rani and Kirsten.
They hadn’t heard. Christmas miracle.
Wayne reached for more Buhja mix. ‘Mmmm. Delicious. What is it?’
‘Don’t know,’ she said.
What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.
‘Doris?’ Sally smiled, offering the plate to her mother-in-law.
‘Your hair!’ said Doris, reaching for some Coon and looking at Sally with her good eye. ‘No-one has normal hair anymore, do they?’ she laughed.
No. No they don’t. For example, you have a perm.
‘Your hair looks lovely, Doris!’ smiled Sally.
Lie.
‘Is this spicy?’ asked Doris, pointing to the hot chilli guacamole. ‘Spicy gives me the runs.’
‘Not at all,’ said Sally.
Lie.
‘Hi Tim! Cheese?’ Sally turned around to Tim (sister-in-law’s second husband), who was gazing at his Jack Daniels and scratching his crotch.
He leaned in for a wedge of Cape Fruity Cream Cheese, and spoke loud. Way loud. ‘Kirsten’s friend – I reckon he’s one of those…poofters!’ Tim huffed.
The man’s vocabulary is as narrow as his mind.
‘You mean Rani? Try one of these dips,’ suggested Sally, sweetly. ‘Guacamole or spicy capsicum. Choose whichever one feels right. I won’t judge you.’
He won’t get that joke.

Sally put the platter down and made her way towards Rani.
She had to try.
‘I’ll introduce you,’ she said, guiding Rani across the yard to the group. ‘This is Rani, everyone. Isn’t it great Kirsten brought him along?!’
‘What do you do for a crust?’ asked Tim.
‘I’m a lawyer. I work for the Human Rights Law Network. I’ve just flown in from New Delhi for a few months holiday.’ said Rani.
Human rights? Progressive. An anomaly in these parts.
‘Hmmm,’ said Wayne. ‘Do you speak English?’
‘I love your hair,’ said Doris.
‘You’re not gay, are you?’ asked Tim.
Pretend they’re joking. It’s the only option.
‘Oh my goodness, you guys are hilarious! Aren’t they the funniest, Rani?’ Sally threw back her head and laughed.
Cate Blanchett would have done no better. That’s the truth.
‘Yes! What a fun bunch of folks,’ said Rani, smiling. ‘I’m having such a great time.’
Lies. All lies, Rani. But understandable on Christmas Day. In fact, they are essential.

2 thoughts on “Christmas Lies | Heather Mercer

  1. Family Christmas….who knows what to expect! How many times have you cringed at someone’s comment or remark? Heather, you’ve hit the nail on the head with your short piece.

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