Holiday Driving

An old holiday story about my dad.  I’ve told it before but with the holidays here I’m thinking of him a lot. This took place on Christmas night 1983.

Every year on Christmas night I suddenly realize that it’s almost over. By the time 9 PM comes around on Christmas night the holiday is essentially over but around that time I usually find myself trying to find that last bit of holiday spirit. Last night I wanted to put on holiday music and then re-wrap and re-open the presents because it seems unfair that those weeks of build up end with just one day to celebrate.

One year, my father managed to extend the holiday spirit just a little longer.  I remember riding in my father’s van on a Christmas night many years ago. I was still pretty young, maybe 9 and my brother and sister were 7 and 5. After weeks of anticipation it was almost done; every gift had been opened every relative seen and now we were on the drive home from our great grandmother’s house. My dad was due to drop us back at our mother’s but we weren’t going the right way, instead of going home we were going towards a part of Long Island I had never seen, where the houses seemed impossibly large compared to ours and they were all fabulously lit up with holiday decorations. I was impressed but also worried about getting home on time.

“Dad, we have to go home”
– “your brother and sister don’t want to go home”
“But we have to”
(To my brother and sister) – “Everyone who wants to stay out, look at decorations and have fun, raise your hand”
(back to me) –“Raise your hand if you want to go home”

I was out voted 3 to 1 so we continued to drive. This was a time when seat belts were still just a suggestion so they stood up in the back of the van, faces pressed against the windows calling out decorations. Eventually I joined in too from the front seat as we slowly drove past house after house calling out what we saw until well past bedtime.

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