For a long time, my Christmas was a regiment of obligations, parties, people, and travel, things I moved 1,800 miles away from for some quiet and freedom.
Christmas eve was reserved for my dad’s side of the family. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends would pour into my parents’ house for a night of drinking, games, and so so much food. It would end promptly a few minutes before midnight as all the good catholics in the family rushed off to midnight mass. Then after the leftovers were packed, garbage thrown away and house cleaned, my sister and I opened gifts and went to bed.
At 4am we were shaken awake and marched to whatever car was warming up in the driveway. Invariably it was whatever my dad had just finished fixing up, and our test drive of the brand new motor he started for the first time was a road trip to Oregon to see my mom’s family. Our first stop was gas, and the second stop was usually as the sun came up, somewhere in northern California (and I’m not talking San Francisco or Sacramento as northern California, we’re taking Willits, Red Bluff, Yreka, or Weed) for breakfast at the most dive diner my dad could find. His ability to find a yard sale is impressive, but his ability to find a hole-in-the-wall place to eat is unequaled.
Hours later we would arrive in the Willamette Valley to another house full of family. Instead of tamales and handmade tortillas, we dined on skillet fried potatoes, beans and cornbread.
This Christmas I’ll be dining on leftovers. The few years I have gone to California for Christmas, the travel and ordeal nearly drives me to drink…more. So I’m staying put this year. Hoping the tamale fairy stops by tonight, cause the vodka fairy came last week and left a BIIIG bottle behind. Tomorrow I’ll wake up, realize Santa started a “oh hell no” list, and left me with a lazy dog and dishes to do instead of gifts. Which is ok, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the obligations, people, parties and family I was surrounded by for so long.
If I wasn’t so stubborn, cheap, and babies didn’t cry on planes, I’d be there in a heartbeat. Next year…maybe, but grubhub is hard to give up for a broken down Chevy with no heat in the syskiews on the way to eat someplace called Joe’s Trash Shack.