The man next to me was snoring. Thank goodness it wasn't that awful kind of snore that builds to a crescendo, then pauses for a few moments to prolong the suspense until, about the time the weary listener has resolved that tomorrow—no, make that today, it's 2:37 a.m.—is definitely the day to call the sleep apnea clinic, the hapless sleeper gives a strangled snort, gasps for breath, and starts in on the next measure.
This was a regular, rhythmic snore that wasn't really very loud. It probably wouldn't have kept me awake had I been in my own bed.
Of course, in my own bed I could also have easily poked him in the ribs with a loving elbow and asked him sweetly to roll over. That wasn't an option here. For one thing, I wasn't quite sure who the guy was.
Besides, we weren't in the same room. My lower bunk with its hard mattress was on one side of a thin wall and his was on the other. So much for sleeping like a baby at the annual family Christmas gathering. (Actually, I was sleeping like a baby—the one next door was awake several times during the night, too.)
Sleeping arrangements aside, here is the important question for this year's party: Did this qualify as a redneck Christmas?
Possibly. Here are the contributing factors:
1. We were at a hunting lodge in the South (well, South Dakota). It was decorated in Modern Taxidermy with mounted deer heads (the one with only one antler looked embarrassed), elk heads, turkeys, bobcats, and pheasants. One of the gifts in the joke gift exchange was a set of mounted antlers—from a deer personally shot by the giver, Great-Grandma (who was merely Grandma back when she shot it).
2. Grandma wouldn't have been up for any deer hunting this year though. A fall on the slippery back step a couple days earlier had left her stiff, sore, and with stitches in her arm. She joked that she hadn't exactly been run over by a reindeer; she just felt like it.
3. The entertainment included the usual board games and even a little bit of televised football, but the featured activity on Saturday afternoon was target shooting, with coaching from Great-Grandpa. Shooters included most of the granddaughters as well as the grandsons and sons-in-law. The great-grandkids are still too small to manage a shotgun, but they helped by picking up empties and unbroken targets. Next year, maybe.
4. The feature story of the weekend was the encounter some of us had with a dead skunk when we went for a walk. Someone suggested taking our picture with it, like the picture taken with the dead porcupine a few years ago (don't ask—that's a different story). As we approached, however, the "dead" skunk lifted its head and looked at us. An unhealthy-looking skunk out in broad daylight is not a good sign. We scrambled to a safe distance, my sister used her cell phone to call her husband the veterinarian, and he came and shot the critter. He also saw that it was caught by one leg in a trap. That immediately changed our perception of the skunk. Shooting it, instead of a necessity to get rid of a potential threat, became a necessity to put the poor thing out of its misery. (We skipped the picture.)
Arguments against this qualifying as a Redneck Christmas:
1. None of the in-laws were related except by marriage.
2. Too many teeth.
3. Too many e-readers.
4. Too many college degrees.
But I'll let you decide. Redneck Christmas, or just another ordinary family get-together?
And while you're making up your mind, have a Merry Christmas!