Do you know where I'm supposed to be right now? With my rowdy cousins, rogue relatives, and random neighborhood strays at Ed's Bar, a cozy red-plaid nook in the downstairs of Cheryl and Ed Malinzak's home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Aunt Cheryl and Uncle Ed, as I call them, host our extended family every Christmas. Scoring a stool at this famous bar--prime location being smack in front of our generous bartender, who juggles a daytime gig as a lawyer--is one of my missions as soon as I walk in the front door. My non-alcoholic missions include kissing the heads of my cousins' angel babies, picking at the tables of festive food, and performing my decades-old impression of Vanna White. Then I make a beeline for the basement.
But this year, for the first time ever, my family fled tradition and the annual Christmas blizzard by having a Feliz Navidad in Miami's South Beach, where we are currently watching a movie while keeping an eye on ships sailing by. (Mom, in the absence of bird-watching, has taken up ship-watching. And so.) We're having a bottle of red, but it's not nearly as good as whatever Uncle Ed splashed in my glass 365 days ago. Sad face!
I did, however, go to Michigan a few weeks ago and ended up doing Homebodies throughout the Malinzak residence--at 3 o'clock in the morning. That's how we roll. Tonight, since I can't be there in person, I'll post pics of my recent visit. I didn't get to hang out with my cousins or hear several sides of the latest family gossip, but I was the sole customer at Ed's Bar. Can't complain.
Below, too many empty chairs. Ed and his magnetic-fastening bifocals. He picks up the two parts and joins them together at the bridge so he can read the wine label. Cute!
Ed's Bar decor: the wall is filled with framed artwork the kids--my cousins--made when they were little. Drawn pictures of Dad and Mom, "God don't make no junk," etc. Below, Ed prepping the Kermits for their portrait.
This keeps happening, the drinks-making. And Ed coming round to cheers me. Lawyer loafers. I want shoes with tassels: pom-pons for walking, love it!
Aunt Cheryl appeared on the stairs: "Another rum and Diet Coke, please!" (Pause. She's looking at the Christmas tree, which they hadn't yet decorated.) "Ed, that tree is ugly." Ed replies: "Cher, that's the same tree we've had for ten years. The more you drink, the uglier it gets."
Aunt Cheryl, below, retrieving her rum and Diet Coke. Isn't she pretty? My mom's sis. Ed and Cheryl, concluding it's actually quite a nice tree. Aw.