The Real Cost of Holiday Travel
I’m happy to report that I love my family. I have fostered a relationship, not just with my immediate family but in-laws, aunts, uncles and cousins in the last three years that I never would’ve believe possible when we were constantly at one another’s throats and I hated everyone. So I’m glad we’ve moved past that and are able to enjoy holiday’s and milestones with a measure of grace and civility.
My wife loves her family more than anyone I know. If I didn’t find her, and see the way her family loves and respects one another (even though they were/are as screwed up as I am), I may still be an outcast from my family. It’s not like being a weirdo and disliking family was something I desired; it just happened and didn’t stop for a while. Seeing those things within her family made me recognize all the good things again about mine.
With all that being said, I am so happy the holidays are over, because they were exhausting.
Now that we’re all chummy with everyone, my holiday traditions have been modified. As opposed to the old days, when I would attend family functions as long as I could stand them (two hours, max) before returning to whatever hovel I lived in so I could get blind running drunk, we now spend actual time with relatives during the holidays. Like, ten consecutive days worth of time.
Taking aside the fact that our odyssey encapsulated two time zones, three states, three cars and around 900 miles on the road (which sucks just as much as you would assume), ten days with family is a ton. Ten days with anybody is a ton. But ten days spent behaving like I’m 14 again is a little strange.
As an aside, I enjoy being married. It has all the upside of when I moved out on my own for the first time, only better living conditions, better food and a much sexier roommate. The only downside is sharing a TV, but I’ve noticed putting two in the living room makes everyone happy. She can watch terrible reality shows, I can play pointless video games, and we can go back and forth over who has the stupider hobby like any good married couple should do.
But once you’re married, you develop a pattern of ways you do things. For example, my nights when I’m home now consist of watching TV in my underwear, writing these insane manifesto/essays or drinking Captain Morgan on the rocks and hanging out with the missus and the dog. It’s just what I’ve gotten used to.
Well, these things were all verboten during Extended Quality Family Time (EQFT from here on out). During EQFT, there would be no drinking, clothing would be worn during TV time and the voices in my head, sadly, did not make their way onto paper very often. I felt much as I did before I could drive: trapped, bored and with absolutely no hope of getting laid.
As befits a 24-year old man who believes himself worthy of things like respect, dignity and a full-time job with a 401k, I sulked. I was not a happy camper throughout, mostly because my style was actively being cramped by goodwill. Most of the women in my life probably took my behavior as bordering on the reprehensible. After all, during the holidays one is always supposed to be cheery, for Santa Claus will fly into your chimney like Seal Team Six into Bin-Laden’s compound and that rotund SOB knows if you’re being an ass-clown to family members (I’m paraphrasing; that may not be exactly how the story is told to the children).
I’m not knocking the QFT part of Extended Quality Family Time; it’s mostly the long period of time that kills it. When you’re in the car, on another trip to another remote part of the state, you start to ask yourself questions like, “Wouldn’t it be easy next year just to fake my own death and show back up December 28? It would be a Christmas miracle!”
My wife hates that I have these thoughts; I’m supposed to enjoy time with loved ones just like she does, regardless of length and insane circumstance, because I’m supposed to like things she likes now. Thankfully, that is not now nor will it ever be true. Dusting sucks, “Sex in the City” sucks and spending ten days running all over creation in the middle of December to visit family sucks. I still love ‘em, but next year we’re doing a week, tops. Sorry, sweetie.