I'm spending my first holiday season on the West Coast, specifically in a place where the only sign of winter is at Starbucks. Palm tree leaves don't turn red and orange, and it's pretty much still 70 degrees and sunny. I'm writing from a plane on the way to Indianapolis for Shaun's holiday party, and I had to search for my coat. I was sad to bring it. It's bulky and it felt like having another carry-on. I refused to pack mittens or a hat, even though it will be about 30 degrees in Indiana tonight, mostly because I forgot my mittens at work (It's so cold in my office, I wear fingerless mittens to avoid hand cramping).
I spent my first Thanksgiving away from Pennsylvania. Thinking back, I can't remember ever missing a turkey dinner at Grammy's house. I know one year we went to Palm Springs for Christmas (quite awful trip, thank you) and I missed a bunch of Easters since America doesn't give days off for the Resurrection. But this was the first Thanksgiving away. My mom and sister came to San Diego, which was nice in theory. Their visit would've been less stressful if we didn't have to prepare a feast, if there weren't four cooks in the mini apartment kitchen, and if I had an inkling of how to actually prepare a turkey. Luckily my mom took over, and all I ended up making was a gross pumpkin pie (I hate pumpkin pie but it seemed necessary) and some butternut squash soup which took all of ten minutes to concoct (and from which I got a 3rd degree burn on my wrist right under my Om tattoo... Om is right). I felt like a hostess failure. I've decided that I'd much rather go to Cabo next Thanksgiving, no flights, no feast, no family. Okay well I guess there would be a flight and a feast of Mexican food and tequila. Sounds harsh, but when you're crying in the bathroom on the morning of Thanksgiving because you're so overwhelmed it makes you wonder why you bother. I had much more fun once we opened and consumed about five bottles of wine between six people.
For Christmas, I'm flying home for a week. I haven't been home for a week since college, so 4.5 years ago. I'm sort of afraid, but I'll break up the visit by going to NYC for a night (or 2) and visiting friends in PA/NJ. I'm really stressed about the flights, and I hope they're on time. I hope the weather isn't bad so I don't get stuck anywhere. And another thing, I'm not flying to PA until Christmas Eve, and the FAA says no wrapped gifts. Grinchtastic! So I guess I'm wrapping at some point during Christmas Eve dinner and/or using CVS bags and bows. I always imagined myself as a Martha Stewart, totally graceful, organized, and perfect. I would never use folding chairs at Thanksgiving or serve something out of a can. I'd always wrap unique, thoughtful gifts in beautiful custom paper. I'd host wine and cheese parties in designer clothes and send out Christmas cards written in calligraphy. But yeah, I guess that's not who I really am. I'm impatient, I procrastinate, and I forget things. I suppose I'm human (and not a criminal) which makes it all okay right?
I digress (isn't that the most pretentious phrase?) Does being in CA for the holidays make me want to move back East? Not really, but the fact that I'm missing my best friends' bridal showers, and have to fly back to NJ and PA literally at least five times in 2012 does. I really hate flying, it's expensive, my nose runs, and the mini bathrooms freak me out. Also I don't get how the planes stay in the air! But I would hate to miss weddings, graduations and everything else even more. I hate that I have to choose which events to attend, because I can't go to all of them. Then again, I live in a beautiful place where there's no traffic, I walk to work, and I always said I would move to CA so I can cross that off the list. I don't know if I'll move back, but I know I have to move forward and adjust to air travel and life away from life, at least for now. Time to ice skate on the beach.