….And so, after surviving an evening of teetering on the brink of embarrassment, I made it home by midnight – just in time to get a a decent night’s sleep before work the next day. J, however, was not so lucky; having procrastinated (a man after my own heart) he needed to be up by 4 a.m. to go home, pack and make the drive to North Carolina where he’d then be catching a red-eye to London, where his parents live. He looked like misery personified as he tucked the covers back over me and said, “good-bye.” It would be a week until I met him back in North Carolina. We are admittedly pathetic.
Myself, I had a few more days of work left before I could embark on my 11 days of vacation. But when Wednesday afternoon rolled around, the boss wrote us an e-mail saying, “Let’s all get out of here early and get to our families,” we rapidly obliged, and madness ensued.
First there was the annual Christmas Eve gathering at my grandmother’s house about an hour out of the city. Evil Twin was already there when my brother and I pulled in. Two years ago, Evil Twin drank a bit much at this little soiree. (Pomegranate martinis were the drink of the evening, I believe. I drank my first, and my Aunt refilled the glass. For the rest of the night, unbeknownst to anyone, Evil Twin downed both my refills and hers.) She ended up belligerently swearing at everyone in the car on the drive home, and we had to lock her in the garage with the dog until she was ready to pass out finally. So she expects to hear about it every year, and we never let her down. (Turns out that year was a fluke – no incidents since, but we still like to give her a hard time about it).
Christmas itself was a beautiful thing as always. No snow, sadly, but we awoke as usual, climbed the stairs, waited for Dad to come out and tell us (as he has every year since we were tiny), “Well, kids, I’m afraid it looks like Santa didn’t make it this year…” At this point everyone groans at this lame attempt, gives him a punch or two in the kidney, pushes past him to get to kitchen for some coffee and begins the unwrapping process. (What? This isn’t what happens in every American household on Christmas morning??)
This leg of the vacation went by quickly, and soon it was time for me to chuck my bags into Evil Twin’s car, which was so overloaded with their suitcases, gifts and dog that I had to cram myself into one-fourth of the back seat and insist that it was really fine and I was comfortable and ready to hit the road. She and her husband had offered to drive me back down to North Carolina to meet up with J at his family home there. It was a good deal; I couldn’t really complain.
But it was a long, claustrophobic haul down to North Carolina, with a few stops along the way (but if you ever have to stop for food in Charleston, WV, I have two words for you: Bluegrass Kitchen. Do it.). There was traffic and carsickness and FINALLY, at 8:00 p.m., at a little gas station outside of Winston-Salem, there was J.
I parted ways with Evil Twin and the In-Law, thanked them for the ride and invited them to come back to J’s for the New Year’s Eve party. Then it was time to get back on the road – we had 45 minutes of driving left, and a 9 o’clock reservation for dinner with J’s dad and sister. Time to meet the family…