One of the most enjoyable* parts of traveling around Christmastime is spotting all the holiday decorations people apply to their cars. The beloved tradition of hanging a Christmas wreath on the grille of a minivan is still going strong, but this year I also saw several cars with reindeer antlers attached to the side windows in some kind of misguided effort to make their cars look like Rudolph’s giant mechanical head.
Although it was the trip up to my hometown that had the most unpleasant driving conditions (torrential downpour the entire 400+ miles, construction and delays in every major city on the way), it was the trip back down to New Wye when I almost died. In the middle of heavy traffic just north of The City, a giant commercial-sized garbage bag full of stuff fell off someone’s truck. The driver in front of me swerved and avoided it successfully; I swerved and avoided it successfully, but I only just missed hitting the cement barrier in the median and then careened wildly from side to side for a few seconds; the driver behind me swerved, careened wildly, lost control, flew sideways across three lanes of traffic and T-boned a sedan in the right lane — all of which I watched, breathless, in my rear-view mirror. It took a while for my hands to stop shaking.
So I have narrowly survived Christmas Part I (a.k.a. Family Fun) and, more importantly, my family has survived having me around. This means I humanely managed not to murder anyone with my Deadly Death Glare of Pain and Death after one too many hilarious* comments were directed at me purely for their amusement.
Did you know, for example, that: “Democrats are all fucking socialists who want to redistribute the wealth” (this according to my brother whose salary is paid straight out of tax money, aha ha ha HA); “Goddamned book critics always have to find something to pick apart,” and my personal favorite, “Those who can’t do teach”? Oh yes indeed. Actual quotes.
Staying with my family is sometimes a challenge to my sanity, because as much as I love them, I get The Anxiety in a major way. A diplomatic person might call them consumers; a less diplomatic person might call them pack rats; someone else might use the word hoarders. Use whichever term you like, but know this: the expired mouthwash I photographed three years ago is still sitting on the bathroom counter along with literally (literally!) forty-seven other unused/expired bathroom products, the shower head from the non-functioning shower, the stopper from the sink (pulled out of its housing for what reason I know not), a case of 100 twelve-gauge shotgun shells, a first aid kit, an empty gift box that once housed a teapot, and several snowdrift-like formations of shaved-off beard stubble. And that’s just one bathroom counter. My inability to find a horizontal plane on which I can set down any items kind-of-sort-of-mildly* stresses me out, is what I am saying.
Nonetheless, I had fun seeing my family. My brother showed me how to change the fuses in my car; my stepmother (& sole political ally) told me that during the election season she had ended political fights in the house by telling the boys that every time they started an argument with her about politics, she would donate $100 to the Obama campaign; My dad (in addition to being generally a cool dude) took us out to a very excellent Thai restaurant for dinner; my dog loves them all to death. They’re good people — good people who keep the latest issue of American Rifleman near the toilet for your bathroom reading and edification.
*I’m not sure I’m using these words correctly.