The remnants of the rose bushes were still swinging back and forth slightly, as they dangled from the front bumper of Aunt D's battered old 1972 Chevy station-wagon, with the faux wood siding and faded green paint. The last of the air in the inflatable Santa Claus wheezed out from beneath the car's bald tires. Steam rose from the hood as the driver's side door creaked, then was thrown wide open.
Gathered on the porch, we were silent, holding our breath, to see what emerged from the scene.
"Ooof. Erf. Bugger it!" Aunt D cursed under her breath as she wriggled her bulk out of the door of the vehicle.
A massive hat brim appeared briefly before catching the edge of the door jamb and flying off her head... a mass of grey hair with died purple streaks fell out around her, and she ducked back down behind the car again.
After a bit more grunting, Aunt D stood up, hair up in the hat, hat re-affixed to her head with even more pins, a bright smile on her face, "Well hello you lovelies!"
Everyone on the porch waved weakly in response, partly from dread, partly from the astonishing scene unfolding in front of them.
Squinting at the assembled group on the porch, Aunt D searched for a face. "Ah! There you are. Come here Little Johnny and help your Auntie D with the presents."
My 55-year old uncle - who has preferred to go by Jack for the last 35 years - winced slightly, then found his feet propelled toward his Aunt D as if powered by some other force. "Coming, Aunt D." I've never seen a man go so quickly from middle-aged to 9 years old. His shoulders drooping, feet scuffing along, as he made his way to the wreckage on the front lawn.
The holidays had now officially begun...