Mrs. Penner, 71, plans to slobber all over each and every member of the Penner family at the gathering in the basement of the MB church in Chilliwack this afternoon.
“Watch out, Penners, here I come,” said Mrs. Penner, liberally applying her chapstick. “I’m going to be ruffling hair, pinching cheeks, and cornering Penners for hugs and kisses this whole afternoon!”
A few Penner cousins are already figuring out their strategy for how to deal with the overly amorous Auntie.
“Whatever you do, stay on your feet. You’re a lot taller than her. If you keep upright, the worst you’ll experience is a side hug,” explained one of the more experienced Penners. “Just look at me. I don’t sit down all afternoon and I usually come out relatively unscathed.”
The youngest Penners, however, who don’t have the height advantage have been told to let their snotty noses run free and, perhaps, pre-smear their sweaters with gravy.
“You know how she is about germs and messes,” said the oldest cousin. “A dirty shirt and a runny nose are your only lines of defense I’m afraid.”
Mrs. Penner has been smothering relatives at Christmas gatherings since the mid-1980s, having practiced the art in the church lobby after Sunday School for decades.
“I can’t sing and I ain’t much of a cook,” explained Mrs. Penner. “But I can plant a few nasty wet kisses on unsuspecting foreheads. It’s my gift.”
Mrs. Penner’s sisters have tried to rein in her behaviour for years, but so far the best they’ve been able to do is get her to keep her hands to herself during the annual singing of ‘O du fröhliche’.
“After that, though, she’s back at it,” said sister Ruth. “She’s unstoppable that woman. A real force of nature!”