Christmas is for kids. As we get older, it’s never as fun. The fun dissipates when you have to get in a car or get on a plane to go home for the holidays. I just got back from a Palm Springs holiday weekend with Mr. WednesdayBeforeLast and realized there’s no place like not being home.
After Dad died, my brother and I went home out of obligation, not desire. But, as veterans of past holiday holocausts, we made a pact we wouldn’t go in alone. In 1997, I worked until the last minute at my ad agency servicing a needy client on Christmas Eve. I went home, got the dog, packed my bag, and made the 120 mile drive up I-95 in very evil traffic. I was tired when I walked in my mom’s living room and was greeted by my brother and sister-in-law who warned me, “look out, she’s in rare form.”
Rare form wasn’t really rare at all. It was drunk predictability. My mother’s favorite topics of “discussion” when it came to me included, but were not limited to (a) weight loss; (b) failed relationships; or (c) career. I was tired, but I always had my sound bites ready, like a prepared 60-Minutes interviewee with a hot light and one camera.
She roared around the corner from the kitchen when she heard Kramer barking and gave me a hug with a spiked egg nog after bite. As I got ready to sit down, she mounted the stinger missile launcher on her shoulder and asked about my weight. Direct hit. My sister-in-law, who had a front row seat to the spectacle, was slack jawed and speechless. Mom followed up with her best one-two punch to date – she asked if I was a lesbian. I wasn’t expecting this since she knew I was seeing a man who enjoyed gun shows and cooking. She rounded the interview out with a simple, “so do you still have a job or are you laid off, again?”
I was ready to tackle her like an overweight, unemployed bull dyke would, but in the spirit of the holidays, I spared her life. “Mom, give it a rest. I have no tolerance for this bullshit and I’m too tired to drive back to Richmond. I’ll leave in the morning. Happy fucking holidays.” She went back into the kitchen and I told my brother he was on his own. I was never coming home for Christmas again.
Since that time, I’ve worked in soup kitchens, gone to friends’ houses, gotten drunk with a Hindu, and played Matchboxes with my nephews instead of going home for the holidays. Each year, I create my own bliss with people I enjoy. I remain sane.
When Mr. WednesdayBeforeLast called and suggested we get out of town for the holidays, I jumped at the opportunity. It was a three day, intensive interview/getting-to-know-you pseudo dating workshop that included pools, parks, and constellations. The good times exceeded our expectations. It was a great Christmas Present with no heavy artillery.