If this letter had a return address, it would be from Ohio, where Charlie's dad's family lives.
"I'm just thinking too fast. Much too fast," (2.12.2) Charlie says, his mind racing. We think he might be about to have a panic attack or something.
Holiday shopping with mom and sis is super stressful, and not in the typical fighting-over-the-latest-holiday-fad kind of way.
Although he knows what to buy Sam and Patrick, he has no idea what to get his dad.
After much debate, Charlie buys him a videocassette (which is what movies used to be on before DVDs, which is what movies used to be on before Netflix) of the final episode of M*A*S*H.
When the shopping stress is finally over, Charlie's brother comes home, and the family has dinner.
The next morning, they exchange gifts before driving to Ohio.
Charlie asks his brother a lot of questions about his girlfriend, Kelly. He's getting kind of nosy here.
After arguing with his sister about sororities, hazing, and the Equal Rights Amendment, Charlie's brother tells his sister, "Kelly believes in women's rights so much that she would never let a guy hit her. I guess I can't say that about you" (2.12.65).
Dad stops the car almost instantaneously.
He breaks up the fight, then gets out of the car to sit between Charlie's brother and sister.
Who's going to drive the car the rest of the way to Ohio? Charlie is.
He's sweating bullets, but he does it. It feels like the longest road trip ever.
Over the river and through the woods (or however you get to Ohio), Charlie arrives at Grandmother's house.
Charlie's free-associative style leads him to tell us his first memory, from when he was three years old:
At the zoo, he saw a mother cow poop on its baby calf's head and laugh for three hours. Talk about, um, poops and giggles.
For the first couple of hours, his mom and his Aunt Helen were okay with it, because he didn't talk much at that age.
After sharing that morsel, Charlie tells us about Christmas dinner at Grandma's house.
He also mentions that his dad's father was very abusive.
Lying in his dad's old bed, Charlie thinks a lot of his dad, and how he seems to feel bad around his mom and sister. The guy carries a lot of guilt around with him because he left his mom and sister with an abusive man in order to live his own life.