My mother is a shrew. She is the type who opens a Christmas gift and sneers that she’s never liked that colour, so why on Earth would you have got it for her? The type who will not have her coat off before she’s criticizing your failure to open the door fast enough. The type who will spend the first half hour in your house tsking and telling you what you need to be doing differently in terms of your housework, your decorating or your storage systems.

To summarize, since I moved out at 21, I have had a hard time being in her presence for more than an hour. Believe  me, I have stood up to her, and there have been many, many screaming matches. But she remains the rudest and most critical person I have ever known. She is rude to people working in the service industries, and when she comes to visit, she treats you like you are simply the waitress and/or maid and therefore the treatment is the same. She is a bigot. She is loud. She is obnoxious. She is cold and unloving. She is Olivia Soprano, and she’s my fucking mother, and I have spent my life asking myself:  “Why me?”

To top it all off, she’s cheap as hell. I am giddy with anticipation this year knowing that, once again, I am going to get another collection of dollar-store tea towels and crocheted dishrags from the church bazaar. Merry Christmas to me. I’d actually rather just have the five bucks.

So imagine my delight knowing that in one hour, her plane is touching down, and I will have five solid days of  the woman my siblings and I have long referred to simply as  Hagatha.  I have not smoked marijuana in a month, saving what little I have left in order to help me survive these next few days. I have one Percocet. I am trying to figure out what, if anything, I can buy at the drugstore that will numb me to her lunacy.  Suggestions are welcome, by the way.

One thing that I know will help is writing a daily diary highlighting some of Hagatha’s Greatest Holiday Hits. Every day, I will drop in to share with you one or two pithy quotes or anecdotes that will pretty much sum up what I  am dealing with until the 27th.  I thank you in advance for your tolerance. Please be nice to me. My neck hurts already.