By the time this goes up on the site, I’ll be speeding from Iowa back to Chicago, where we’ll take the briefest breather and then fly south to Miami. It is what my wife is calling our new holiday arrangement: Christmas with her family, New Year’s with mine. It is entirely her idea.
In truth, only the latter part is new. This has been my third year in Iowa, happily lazing around in bed during snowy days, eating and watching TV, giving and (mostly) receiving presents, and enjoying plenty of holiday libations. This year we had an addition: a new niece, a little bit of heaven, quite literally dropped in our laps.
So the experiment starts tomorrow, in Miami. My wife’s presence won’t be the shocker so much as mine. It’s been years since I’ve spent the holidays with family. To be honest, I couldn’t even say when I was last in Miami in December; I visit, yes, but not for the holidays.
To explain why requires more than a blog post, and while a lot of it would be very funny, a lot wouldn’t. It’s the stuff of novels, really – of revolution and dislocation and … well, frankly, of dysfunction. There is no lack of love in my family; indeed, I would say we love with great passion. But we are frequently inept at showing it, and at being generous when we are not so artful at it.
The Iowans, in contrast, are breathtakingly functional. Now, don’t get me wrong: they party and engage in their own brutal banter, get tense and skirt political landmines, and get pissed at each other.
But to get through the holidays with dozens of people coming in and out of the house, three dogs, a surly cat and a baby with a mind of her own and still feel the love, that just plain throws me off.
Yesterday I told my wife, “I’m feeling out of step.”
Smartly, she did not indulge me. Having no choice, the moment passed.
And suddenly, I’m very much looking forward to Miami, and to seeing my own family.