Henry is rudely awakened from a wonderful dream. He was just about to score with the hot new web page designer, in the boss’s office too, when his mobile phone rang unceremoniously. He can tell by the ring tone, the theme song of Darth Vader from Star wars, that it is his father calling him. He cracks open a bleary eye and stares at his phone, it is 5 am in the morning, and his father is calling him from the next room. Henry cuts the call and rolls over in his blanket. This he thinks is exactly why I hate the holidays.

Fifteen minutes and several more calls later, Henry is still under his blanket desperate to defend his lazy territory against the onslaught of parental powers. “Has that lazy ass son of yours woken up yet? If we get late we will have to sit at the back of the congregation, and I am not doing that again.” He hears his dad scream for his benefit. “How does he automatically become my son when he is being a lazy ass? He will get ready, give him some time….” He hears his mom mutter as she walks towards his room. There is a barely audible knock on his door for formality sakes and his mom walks into his room.

“Henry! Prasanth! Wake up da! You know how cranky your dad gets when we are late for mass. It will ruin Christmas for everyone. Come da, get up!” She yanks the blanket from his head forcefully. Henry pulls it back towards him. “Why can’t we go to the midnight mass like everyone else? One holiday I get in months and I have to get up at an ungodly hour… talk about being charitable!”

“You know your dad gets sleepy past 11 pm in the night. You remember how he was snoring at midnight a few years ago. The whole service went silent. It was embarrassing, you should have seen the pastor, he was red with anger!” they both chuckle at the memory.

“Come on da Prasanth, get up! You don’t want to miss your best friend’s birthday party, now do you?” his mom says in an excited voice.

Henry sits up with a groan. He hates it when his mom gets all evangelical on him. “You know what I think of birthdays mom…if I was not involved in making the baby I don’t give a damn. And apparently in this case no one was, so who cares?”

“Ayoo, papam…” his mom says slapping her cheeks with her fingers, a throwback gesture to days before they had converted.

“Besides, who has a birthday party at 7 am in the morning? And no, he is not going to be my best friend till he helps me pick up chicks on the weekends!” Henry winks at his mom.

“Shut up, dumbo! Don’t talk about the lord like that. Do you want me to tell your father what you said?” She asks with a smile. Henry raises his hands in defense “In the name of the father, the son and the holy ghost, please don’t. I am wide awake now, might get ready as well.

“Good, I have switched on the geyser, got take a bath and get ready.”

“What? No! No bath. You know it is one of the pleasures of a holiday not to take a bath for as long as you can delay it. The sun isn’t even up yet. Let’s make a deal, I don’t take a bath and you don’t tell my villain of a father anything about it.”

“Po da!” His mom sneers, “Like I am letting you enter the church without taking a bath. Che, what will everyone think. What will the good lord think?”

“Et tu Mamus? Fine…fine!” Henry says with mock dramatic contempt, “btw the good book doesn’t mention anything about my best friend’s bathing habits. For all we know he never took a bath. The only times he is mentioned along with water, once he was baptized and the next time he converted it to wine. So, it is possible I have taken more baths then him, just saying.”

“Shut up you idiot!” his mom says throwing a towel at him. “And who knows, maybe Kavya might be there for the mass too.” His mom says with a twinkle in her eye.

Henry chuckle as he walks towards the bathroom. Nope, no way will Kavya be coming he wants to say.  She had around half a dozen tequila shots last night and while she can handle her booze well, tequila is her poison. So kavya will be at some friend’s place doubled over a toilet bowl, barfing her stomach out and taking the Lord’s name in vain. And Henry wished he was there right besides her. And she complained he couldn’t be romantic.

Henry gets out of the bathroom and puts on his suit which is already making him warm. Birthday parties should not have a dress code he thinks. When he walks out of his room, his father is jumping around the living room making loud farting noises. Concerned, he catches holds of his mom, “what is dad doing?”

“He is trying to get out all of his gas so he doesn’t fart during the mass.” They both chuckle watching him jump around. “Talk about Christmas miracles!”

He notices them and stops jumping, “Ah you are ready, good good!” he smiles at them. “Henry come let’s take a groupie with the Christmas tree” he says.

“Dad, it’s called a selfie.” Henry says taking out his mobile and standing beside the tree.

“But we are a group of people…” his father says adjusting his tie.

“It’s still a selfie dad…” Henry says.  And as he tries to fit them all into the frame of his phone, he feels it, all the joy and merriment and love and comfort that the season is supposed to bring. And all it took was getting ready with this parents and a selfie with a Christmas tree. Maybe god does work in mysterious ways. He hugs his parents tight and kisses them on surprised cheeks.

They walk down towards the car hoping that they get one of the first pews at church. Henry notices the portrait of a smiling Jesus as he picks up the car keys. “Happy birthday old chum!” he smiles as he locks the door behind him.

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