Thursday, December 20, 2007

Have A Holly Jolly Christmas

Christmas is almost here, and I am getting both excited and apprehensive.

On Saturday, Andrew and I fly to Oklahoma, where we will visit with my family for five days. This will be the longest visit Andrew and I have made to Oklahoma, and we will be, primarily, housebound—unless the temperature outside miraculously shoots up to 70 degrees.

My aunt and uncle from Dallas will be staying with my parents, too, during most of our stay, and I wonder whether there will be too many people cooped up in a standard-size split-level house.

Furthermore, in honor of Andrew’s and my presence, my mother will be hosting Christmas dinner this year, which means that three additional sets of aunts and uncles will be present on Christmas Day.

None of my aunts and uncles has met Andrew, although they are all familiar with Andrew’s mother’s family and although they have all heard about Andrew in great detail. They are all dying to meet him, including my uncle who is a Baptist minister.

The question is: will Andrew and I be able to cope?

More particularly, will Andrew be able to cope?

I remember my first weekend in Minnesota, Easter weekend 2006. That weekend was not a success, for me or anyone else, and I am surprised I was ever allowed back into Andrew’s family home. Without Andrew at my side, I would never have been able to make it through that weekend.

I think things will work out all right, but I also worry that everyone will be bored out of his or her mind. What will we do to pass the time?

My brother will watch ESPN all day, so I do not worry about him. Even at mealtimes, he will take his plate of food and go downstairs to the family room and eat in front of the television, watching SportsCenter. He will even do that on Christmas Day, during Christmas dinner, if my mother allows it.

I do not worry about my sister, either, because she—like all high school girls—has her own agenda to keep her busy. Further, she loves Christmas and she loves to help cook Christmas dinner and she loves Christmas Day and all the traditions it entails. This is the one time each year she enjoys spending time in the kitchen.

What I worry about is what my parents and Andrew and I will do to occupy our time. I have been thinking about this conundrum. Maybe we should play canasta all day, every day, so that Andrew and my parents may learn to become comfortable in each other’s presence. And maybe we should not.

Tomorrow night, Andrew’s brothers will arrive home for Christmas, and tomorrow night we will all have a preliminary Christmas celebration. I think Andrew’s mother is planning to prepare prime rib.

Saturday morning, Andrew’s brothers will take us to the airport. I can already see Andrew's father hugging Andrew tightly, not wanting to let go, and Andrew’s mother trying to hold back tears, not wanting to leave Andrew's embrace, as we prepare to leave the house.


  1. Joshua, you almost forgot: If there is nothing left to do, absolutely nothing on the horizon, one can always enjoy the company of the earth-shattering voice of one MS. CHERYL STUDER!!!

    I hope that when you and your family and Andrew listen to her recordings, the foundation of your parents' house has been checked. Her voice is known to cause earthquakes, something the likes of which have made the Richter's Scale explode.

    Kidding aside, I hope you have a fantastic time in Oklahoma!


  2. Hey, J.R.

    Cheryl Studer recordings?

    Oh, dear.

    I suppose, late tonight, Andrew and I can re-pack everything and find room for some Cheryl Studer discs.

    However, in that event, we would not need to bother to pack any clothes at all because, ten minutes into Miss Studer's warblings, my parents would get up from their chairs and insist upon taking Andrew and me back to the Oklahoma City airport for a flight back to Minneapolis.

    It is worth some thought.


  3. Joshua, Merry Christmas to you and Andrew and your families. Enjoy Oklahoma. Is there ANYTHING to do in Oklahoma? Isn't it just one of those great American spaces, empty of all life? Tomorrow I leave for Stamford to spend Christmas at home. I return New Year Day. Anxiously awaiting the release of the New Year Honours List. Surely I will be on it! CC

  4. For your sake, Calvin, I hope they throw protocol out the window and give you the M.B.E., O.B.E., C.B.E. and K.B.E. all in one year, just to get it over with. If you like, I'll place calls to Gordon Brown and the Queen on your behalf. Do you think I'll be able to get through?

    Oklahoma is home, and the people are good.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


  5. Thanks very much for your kind post about Arthur Schlesinger. At 52 I have had to listen to his nattering twice as long as you, and read his books through three degree programs.

    I hope you have an excellent holiday with the family. My parents, being of a previous generation, left town the one summer visit I made with my then-partner, and Christmases were just not on at all.

    BTW: It has been a long time since I was last in Bladon, but next to a pub in the village there used to (circa 1980) be a gate that lets the locals into the grounds of Blenheim free. I was seeing a local fellow back then and we had a grand picnic next to the bridge on lovely July day. You might nose around and see if it is still there.

  6. Thank you, Waldo, and thank you for the heads up about Blenheim.

    And thank you for the link. I have reciprocated.

    Merry Christmas!


  7. Thanks very much for your note. Perhaps one day we can make fun of Arthur S in more detail by email. Best wishes for the holiday trip-