At a time when everyone is rushing home to be with family and friends, I long to be away. I yearn for white, snowy winters – even if it means cold, wet feet. I feel a tinge of jealousy whenever I see someone experiencing someplace new during this season – a gift that I could never have with my current life. Every year, I am expected to spend Christmas at home. Whether I want to is immaterial to the discussion. Nothing short of a nuclear holucaust (or detention at immigration) will be acceptable as a reason for missing the holidays.
I’ve always thought that things would slowly change as the years pass. We’ll all grow up and have our own lives, and we’ll have other commitments. But somehow, coming together during Christmas has stuck as an unwritten rule. And taking personal holidays during the Christmas season? Instant excommunication. (Which might not be a bad idea, actually.)
I loathe having to deal with massive holiday jams, ridiculously long airport queues, crying babies and fake smiles during our massive family get-togethers of a hundred people (and counting). But more than these things, I hate being told that I can’t travel. Can’t travel during public holidays when I am free from work, to be precise. For whatever reason. “But Christmas is the only time we’ll be together” included. Truth is, we can choose to be together whenever we want. It’s just that Christmas is convenient. I get why people think everyone should be together during this season, versus any other time of the year. Sort of.
But again. I hate being told that I can’t travel. Or not being told, but being expected to stay just the same.
Travel is my ultimate expression of freedom. To be able to leave and not have people calling you about this account or that transaction or the location of another wayward spreadsheet. To be responsible only for yourself, and only have to worry about what you will eat for dinner – not what you need to cook for everyone else. To be away from the familiar and remain unnoticed in a land so foreign that they can’t even say your name right.
At a time when everyone is clamoring for my attention, I want to get away.
But not today. Today I will go home early and babysit my sister’s kids. Tonight I will tuck the little ones in while they whisper secrets in the dark. I will have a tiny arm wrapped around my neck and sleep next to stuffed dolls.
Yes, the Northern Lights will have to wait another day.