I’ll Be Somewhere for Christmas

Tomorrow, my wife and I will be embarking on our annual December trip from Colorado to Alabama. We’ve been living in Colorado since 2011, so every year since then we’ve had to make the decision about whether to set out across the U.S. for Christmas. For the sixth time, we’ve decided to make the haul. We’re as excited as you might expect.

This means we’ve been planning for about three weeks, coordinating off-times, finishing grades, clearing our dog’s social schedule, and watching the local meteorologists guess about the upcoming weather. We’re not even close to being ready.

Over the past few years, we’ve had some interesting trips. In 2014, we flew from Colorado Springs into Biloxi, Mississippi and rented a car to drive to Mobile, which saved us some money but culminated in disastrous storms and an unplanned Christmas Day stay in a casino hotel. (The plus: Good food and lots of it. The minus: The people with haunted, dead eyes, ours included.) Last year, we decided to take our car, but that trip that ended with us playing hide-and-seek with ice storms across Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. There doesn’t seem to be an upside to this travel thing.

All this gallivanting is taking place, of course, because it’s the season for such things. Don’t get me wrong. Traveling can be fun, it’s nice to see friends and family—the ones who still talk to us, anyway—and it’s good to be able to at least pretend to be on vacation. That said, roughly seventy-five percent of our round-trip drive involves crossing large tracts of Texas, a fact that makes me want to cry. It isn’t even our destination, yet we spend a surprising amount of time there. That doesn’t seem fair to us or Texas.

On top of this, Christmas just isn’t a big deal to me, at least not the way it was when I was a kid. For one thing, I’ve grown weary of the Christmas marketing machine. Plus, if it’s meant to be a time of year for being kind to others, I say that sounds like something worth doing all year long. The same goes for telling people you love them. Before you assume I’m a Grinch or Scrooge, you should know that Scrooged is one of the few Christmas-themed movies I still watch. That should prove something.

When I was young, my mother was the queen of Christmas. Essentially, if it happened during December and involved music, food, and festive colors, she was probably a fan. Because of her, everyone around her was a fan, too. Since she died in 2007, though, I don’t seem to be able to pretend as convincingly as I once did. In other words, a small part of me wouldn’t mind staying home and lying around in my jammies for a week or so.

On the other hand, as I’ve gotten older, the rest of me has learned to be happy wherever I am, as long as I’m with people I care about. Food is important, too. Whether all these things come together in snowy Colorado, down in humid, non-wintry southern Alabama, or some other place doesn’t matter. And if this time of year gives me the opportunity to do that, a twenty-hour drive seems a small price to pay.  

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