We are getting our Christmas. Enid isn't quite getting the Christmas she wanted because Caroline is terrible. Just the worst. First she refuses to see her in-laws. Then she convinces the two older kids not to go. When the youngest Jonah wants to go and is all excited, she and the older siblings spend the weeks leading up to Christmas talking about how stupid and lame St. Jude is. THEN, the coup d'etat, she buys tickets to see The Lion King on Broadway for Christmas. But you know, Jonah can't go if he's in St. Jude and OMG CAROLINE, WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU, YOU TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE PERSON.
I started to feel bad for Gary in this section. I already pitied him from his other section and when we learn just how awful Caroline is, I felt it again for the guy. He was nice enough to tell Enid Jonah was sick instead of how his mother is a manipulative bitch. And that was officially the last nice thing Gary did during his visit to St. Jude and shit, Gary, you're making Chip look good. His shit about how illness is low-class (whatnow?), him making a big deal about installing the handle in the shower for his dad*, demanding his mom pay him back for the $4 bolts he had to buy, him going on about how trains are his hobby and not a hobby someone else picked out for him, except he picked the darkroom hobby and got bored with it when Caroline got him his own darkroom because he's a child, just like his kids, his fight Christmas morning.
Denise is still hovering somewhere on the terrible-fence. She's being a bitch to Robin in part to drive Robin away, in part because she knows Robin won't leave no matter how badly she treats her. So obviously that's Denise being terrible and fitting in with everyone else. But she also really cares about her parents. She's patient with them. She helps her father with his stretches and deals with his incontinence. She's even patient with Enid. And we learn that the reason Alfred quit his job right before getting the bigger pension was because he found out about her and Don however many years before and wasn't going to let Don drag Denise's name through the mud. That was the most (only?) touching moment in the whole book. Denise ends this being in limbo. She does some really awful things but overall she's not the terrible-person-to-the-core like her siblings seem to be.
I skimmed Chip's Lithuania pages. I don't try to but I just can't focus on it. I could however focus when the cops (or whatever) stole Chip's clothes cos he was head-to-toe in leather and haha Chip. But he does manage to make it to St. Jude for Christmas morning. Right when Gary is leaving which pisses Gary off but Gary has stolen the torch for worst Lambert child, so whatever. Gary can be pissed. Because it turns out Chip has stopped being all that terrible. Not completely redeemed but he stays in St. Jude to help take care of his dad after he's moved to the nursing home. OK, so Denise sort of makes him do this at first, but he seems to keep doing it of his own volition. Then he moves to Chicago and even gets married. I hope he doesn't ruin her computer keyboards. And I hope he leaves his stupid vaginal-tang chair behind in NYC. He at least seems to have failed to replace his leather pants so we're moving in the right direction.
We see a little bit more how difficult life is for Enid having to take care of Alfred. Once Alfred is in the nursing home, and then later dead, we see how much more relaxed Enid is. She refuses to pay Gary back for those bolts on principle (the principle being Gary is an asshole) and anytime he brings them up she points to his various expensive toys. Not in a "you've spent so much on your watch", but in a "My, what a lovely new watch you have Gary" and BAM, SHUT THAT DOWN.
The story pretty much ends with Alfred dies and everyone is much happier. You know, end this on a high note.
I'm not going to run out and read more Franzen right away, but I'm very happy that I didn't hate this. And more than that I'm happy we did this as a readalong, cos there is no way I would have made it through without everyone else. And the gifs. Always the gifs.
*Which by the way is TOTALLY an easy thing to do. I can do it. If I can do it, anyone can do it. This is not complicated DIY stuff. Of course it helps to know whether you're running the drill the right way
Title quote from page 525
Franzen, Jonathan. The Corrections. Picador, 2001