Merry Christmas to all and a happy New Year! I’ve experienced many Christmases and many New Years in my time treading on this planet. No, I think I’ll keep the number of them to myself, for now. I want to keep all of you cherished readers guessing, you see. I’ll admit, most of my experiences were good ones. Christmas morning as a child: waking up early to see what Santa brought us kids, hearing my folks admit they heard the dog barking in the night – the wonderful experience only a child can have at the prospect of Christmas. When my mother asked me (I was perhaps ten years old, I think), did I realize Santa didn’t exist, I nodded unhappily. I suspected, but until that moment still had hopes the rumors from my friends were wrong. I felt better instantly when Mom asked me to help keep that a secret from my younger sister.
I’ve had my share of crappy Christmases. Like the holiday of 1997. Coming home from work late at night with a migraine headache, a near miss at an intersection during the blinding snowstorm on my dive home, my husband bitching at me when I walked through the door: “What’s wrong with you now?” Vomiting at six a.m. the next morning, and seeing the contempt in my husband’s eyes as he handed me my gifts. Not in the least happy memories. Um, yeah – we split not long after.
But it’s not my desire to tell you about that one, other than to help me explain its direct opposite. I want to share with you this Christmas my story of a Christmas in the desert, December 2005. My folks were snowbirds in their active retirement. They lived in northern Wisconsin during most of the year, and travelled to southern Arizona during the winter. Why, Arizona to be exact. Not, not why – Why. Yes, there’s a town called Why in Arizona. Not much of a town, but a town, nonetheless. Empty in summer – duh. One day I’ll have to write a blog about the guy who owned the bookstore in town and wore only a hat, flip-flops and a thong – that’s it. A string bikini thong. His butt-cheeks lay open to every eye that wanted a look and his whatsis – ahem, you get the idea. Indeed, yes, he won the battle in court against town officials to protect his rights to wear a thong in public.
Anyway, I spent that Christmas with my folks in their RV in the desert in Why, Arizona. Why? Um, cuz they invited me, that’s why. Coming from Colorado, having a Christmas in warmth was quite unique. Heat, sand, sun – cool! My folks were pals with a married couple from Canada (originally from England), who parked their van next door to my folks and created awesome Nelson coffees. If you don’t know what that is, I’ll try to remember. Something about Bailey’s, coffee and whipped cream. If I’m not correct, don’t yell. I’m working off of memories here and I didn’t like the stuff. Stuck to my wine instead. My folks loved them, my mom especially. We also built what the Brits called a “conflagration” at night. My folks called it a fire.
Christmas Eve, 2005. A conflagration in the desert. Too many Nelson coffees and an astronomy lesson. The desert night – whoa! The stars above were crystal clear and seemed so close to earth. The five of us grew more and more intoxicated as those very stars travelled across the sky. Desert nights are cold, so we huddled under blankets and sweatshirts, my dad yelling at me for always messing with the fire. Sorry, I like throwing wood on a blazing fire, excuse me for living. I also like poking it, which made my dad holler at me again. Mom and I were struck by the giggles. We didn’t need much to make us laugh, we just did. I never thought that might ever happen – giggling like teenagers with my seventy-something mother. I’d do the math for you, and give you her age, but it’s not important.
Let me explain. My folks were great parents, but they were PARENTS. They had their nightcaps before going to bed, but never encouraged teenage drinking. They didn’t drink with their kids. I felt guilty when I visited them as an adult and drank a beer in their presence, even when invited to do so. I never seriously drank until after my divorce (in my upper 30s) when I discovered partying. Again, another blog.
So, getting intoxicated with one’s mother on Christmas Eve was – intoxicating. We laughed and laughed. We talked about the astrological formations was saw above us, tutored by John, the Brit – loved his accent, by the way – drank, giggled and tossed wood on the conflagration. My dad chuckled and scowled, at the same time. Midnight came and went. The conflagration died down, and the Brits retired to their van. My mom, my dad and I went into their RV to get ready for bed. My dad sighed heavily as my mom and I looked at one another and laughed. Over NOTHING. Just – laughed. Naturally, he commented in a dry tone about his drunken wife and daughter. That made us laugh all the harder. I do remember him shaking his head, and not hiding a smile. Mom and I laughed and tears rolled down my cheeks.
Christmas morning, none of us had true hangovers (I swear!), and we opened gifts sitting in the RV. My soon-to-be-boyfriend told me he loved me for the very first time and I was in heaven. Mom and I fixed dinner, the Brits came over, and we had a really cool Christmas Day eating outdoors in the desert. If there’s a lesson here, (which I didn’t intend, but if you come up with one, then great), it might be something like this: get intoxicated with your mum once in a while.