Tuesday, December 25, 2007

All I want for Christmas...

...is to forget it happened.

I’m a lousy human being, I must be.

I had so little lust for the holidays this month that I don’t deserve to live. Most people enjoy the holidays, even if they don’t have a lot to be grateful for. I don’t have an embarrassment of riches, but I have enough that I should be grateful, yet instead of grateful all I have been is slightly annoyed by the holidays.

My brother has had to adjust to dividing his holiday time between his family and his wife’s family. I don’t have that problem, and for that I should be grateful. My friend Chuck has lamented the pilgrimages she and her husband have made to spend time with both families. I don’t envy that. Nice problem to have, but I don’t envy it.

I have a Christmas Eve tradition I’m less than enamored with. I buy one or two final gifts during the morning, stop by Doug’s house to drop off a cheap gift that either his family – or at least his children – will enjoy, then head to mom’s house so she can go to the earliest Christmas Eve mass available.

I have to be at her house so I can stay with my sister, who gets kicked out of her group home on Christmas Eve so the group home staff can have the night off. I don’t mind doing it, but it seems like it has become a tradition, and while some people love tradition, the thought of making the pilgrimage to mom’s house each Dec. 24 for the next 10 years is not particularly appealing. If the ghost of Christmas future was to visit me tonight and show me I’d be spending my next 10 Christmas Eve’s that way I probably wouldn’t handle the news too well.

I also tend to spend Christmas Eve at mom’s. After dinner I watch TV and go to bed, rather than drive home, only to return in the morning. During this Christmas Eve I had to make an evening journey to the gas station, as I have a bad rear tire that has a slow leak, and since I can’t get it fixed until the 26th I have to fill it a couple of times a day to avoid it going flat. As I drove up University Avenue to a gas station I passed a bar that appeared to be open at 9:30 p.m., which surprised me since 99 percent of bars close on Christmas Eve. I was very tempted to stop in for a few drinks. I could have used them.

I should be grateful that I can count on having dinner on the 24th at mom’s house and spending time on the 25th with my extended family. Some people have to compromise during the holidays, some people don’t have the luxury of going home, wherever home is, and some people don’t have much family to spend the holidays with. One of my former co-workers only has a twin brother to spend the holidays with, so Christmas is a highly pointless time of the year for him. A lot of people would envy my situation.

And why shouldn’t they? Not only did I have family to spend the holidays with, Monica stopped by my mom’s house so we could exchange presents. The fact that I warrant time for her to stop by my mom’s house during her Christmas day travels should be enough to make the day worthwhile. It was definitely the highlight of my day.

So why would I prefer to forget today? In addition to my lack of enthusiasm for Christmas, I crunched my mom’s car.

We gathered at my aunt and uncle’s house. Mom asked if I’d be willing to drive. I accepted, without hesitation, despite the fact that it was snowing and the roads were crappy. I’ve driven through such crap for years, I wasn’t concerned.

We had almost made it to our destination when I slid into the back end of a Jeep Cherokee. We were off the freeway and within a mile of our destination when I pulled into a turn lane. Everything was fine as I slowed down, but when I needed to stop behind the Cherokee, the car wouldn’t stop. We slid right into it. I angled the car a bit so that I crunched the corner of mom’s car. It wasn’t a high-speed crash, but the headlight of her car versus the corner bumper of the Cherokee was hardly a fair fight. Thankfully my aunt and uncle’s Cherokee only has a minor scrape to the bumper. Yeah, that’s right, I rear-ended my relatives.

At the gathering, everybody noted “that’s what insurance is for,” and God knows my mother can afford the insurance deductible, but it’s four weeks before she leaves for two months in Alabama to celebrate her retirement, and now she has to deal with the hassle of getting the front end of her car repaired. Nobody was hurt, but that seems like little consolation tonight. It’s hard to enjoy your evening after a stupid crash like that.

All I wanted was to get through Christmas and move on with life, now I’ll never forget it.

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