Every year I have the same fantasy. And every year it seems more unobtainable. For the holidays, just before Thanksgiving, I dream of going away – to Hawaii, or Tahiti, some place warm. Some place beautiful. Some place where they never heard of Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or New Years. Some place where I won't be expected to cook, or send cards, or show up Christmas morning even though I'm dead tired. And every year I think, Oh well. Maybe next year. And I imagine the sensation of warm sand between my toes and sunshine on my smiling, worry-free face.
I never examine this fantasy too closely. Otherwise I might notice that OF COURSE they have Christmas in Hawaii. They've got freakin' Walmart there. I'd have to go somewhere really remote to get away from Christmas – and the more remote the place is, the less comfortable it's going to be. It might even be downright dangerous. Hey, I don't have to brave the malls or schmooze at the Christmas parties, but those guys in the camouflage-colored jeep keep shooting at me.
Not that I could afford to stay away as long as I'd like to, anyway. It's hard to get November 20 to January 2 off when you work retail. In fact, it's hard to get that block off for just about any job you could think of. And even if I could get the time off, I don't have the moolah for my dream escape. I couldn't afford a trip to Tucson, let alone Tahiti.
I suppose I could buy a sandbox, fill it full of volcanic sand, position it under a sun lamp in my living room, lock the doors, and play South Pacific and Beach Blanket Bingo movies all December.
But I actually like my family. And they sort of like me too. They could probably get along without me for the holidays. But I wonder – if I bow out, will I miss my chance to see them for the year? Because we don't tend to get together for Groundhog Day. Each year I have to wonder, is this the last time I'll see them?
And each year I sigh and think, Hawaii. Tahiti. Timbuktu.
Maybe next year . . .