With the last few days I've had, I needed to find something to focus on... or rather, to re-focus on. So, while I was up at Midnight, again, and sick with a disorder that is not spoken of in polite company and requires multiple trips to the bathroom it just hit me that I needed some Christmas-ness tomorrow/today.
So, as my wife sweetly snores next to me in bed and my puppy continuously re-organizes her position at our feet, here's a little bit of Christmas from my childhood...
My fondest memories of Christmas are the road-trip. We, frequently, lived in southern California and my Mother's family lived to the north. At some way-to-early hour that typically only fervent fishermen and Navy Seals get up at my parents would pick me up and carry me to the back-seat of the car. The car had been pre-laden the night before with luggage. Next to me there would be things to draw with and read, a pillow and a blanket, which I was usually wrapped in. We would take sandwiches and snacks my Mother had prepared the night before to save money on the long trip.
I would sleep quite a bit before daylight, but when I was awake in the dark it was almost magical. The light from the glowing dashboard and my parents talking about how I must be asleep because I was so quiet. (I never shut up very much or very long. A fact that's still true today.) When daylight hit my Father would stop at the next McDonald's and we'd all have breakfast on the road. It was frequently the only meal we'd eat out on the trip up to Grandpa and Grandma's. A banquet, it seemed at the time, fit for a king. Egg McMuffin and orange juice! I still get McDonald's for breakfast, or try to, on Christmas morning. It's just a great memory for me.
We'd play travel games on the way. Not the one's that come in boxes. We'd play games like I-Spy, we'd try to find meanings in license plate numbers (688 ZAD= Six hundred and eighty-eight Zebras Asked Directions) and, my favorite, the out-of-state license plate game where you just try to spot, and count, the out-of-state license plate before anyone else saw it. It was in the days before seat-belt laws and I'd sit forward with my head between the front seats. The car would be filled with love.
Frequently the trip would be spotted with stops for my Father to make sales-calls on bigger customers. He'd drop off some kind of holiday gift and shake hands. I do remember being frustrated some-times that he'd be working too. But now I know that those little side calls paid for our trip.
Our trips were usually short. Just a day or two. I know now how exhausted my parents must have been after each trip. A long drive up north, a day or two with a house full of family, then a long drive south. My parents never talked about how long it was, or how exhausted they were... and they had to be. It was just what the holidays were about. They were doing everything they could to make sure I had family and knew my family.
It's just one of the reasons I love my Mom and Dad so much. Just one of the ways they sacrificed for me. And it's just one of the memories that makes Christmas such a special time.
So, today/tomorrow I plan to dig out a couple of Christmas CD's and play them full blast in the car, singing as I go. I plan to honor the joy that Christmas brings, albeit a bit early. I plan... I will have a good day.
"I will honor Christmas in my heart,
and try to keep it all the year."~Charles Dickens