Christmas Plans

Since I moved to San Francisco, I have kept Thanksgiving for myself and gone to Texas for Christmas, which has some bearing on why I love Thanksgiving and dislike Christmas (other than the tired old reasons of holiday concept: sharing food vs. commercial greed, nonsectarian vs. American Christian, etc.).

It is now public knowledge that I am showing up in Texas a week early for Christmas since Mother no longer knows what day it is. Not traveling at Christmastime is going to be an enormous pleasure, since the memory is still quite clear of last year’s airline and frozen highway nightmare in which I got to fly all over the country at no extra cost on my way to and from Texas.

However, there is another, larger reason for my not going to Texas at Christmas.

For the past ten years, I have escorted my mother to a Christmas Day gathering at the home of my cousin Suzanne’s ex-in-laws, her only good husband (and she’s had a couple of the other kind) having had the poor taste to drop dead of a heart attack in his late thirties after they’d been married only eighteen months. But she’s still thick with these ex-in-laws, who are very family oriented and who gather a crowd of about forty of their relatives, only one of whom other than Suzanne is related to me, a third cousin.

These people are just plain old folks, which, when you’re just a few miles this side of the Louisiana border, means, well, differently oriented on a number of cultural issues.

When Suzanne got these people to invite Mother to join their celebration of the birth of Our Lord, they had never met me. They had probably never met Mother either, but Suzanne, bless her heart, knew Mother and I were Alone At Christmas and, in a Christian spirit of sharing, got us invited.

So for ten years I have spent Christmas Day in a gathering at which a sizable chunk of the crowd loathes me on sight but is demonstrating Charity by tolerating me and even briefly speaking to me. To be fair, the majority of the crowd is friendly. For example, my third cousin (who is my source for wild turkeys) and her husband are really very nice people. The host and hostess are gracious, and their mothers are very nice to both Mother and me. And then, something like a quarter of the crowd is radiating hostility but, it being Christmas, grit their teeth, stay as far away from me as possible, and casually drift out any room I enter.

Last Christmas, I asked, “Why do I continue to do this?”

I haven’t yet decided what I’m going to do for Christmas this year, but it will be here in San Francisco and it’s going to be fun.

Everybody wins.

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