Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Who Stole the Mistletoe?

We racked up 300 miles in the car this Christmas weekend on visits to the homes of sundry parents and siblings, but I wasn't overtaken by the spirit of the season till I was back home late Monday night, watching Everybody Loves Raymond in bed with The Partner.

It's hectic, this business of trying to fit the extended family into our fledgling yet already dysfunctional unit of mother, father and baby. The Partner and I spent the majority of the long weekend vowing to return the gifts we'd purchased for each other as we fought our way from the parking meter at a metropolitan Target to several big box stores, bobbing and weaving through traffic patterns along Route 1. It wasn't the holiday throngs against which we were struggling; it was ourselves. The pressure of trying to please everyone else left little in the way of time or inclination when it came to considering our own marriage.

It should be more apparent than it is, the idea that presenting a united front is far more likely to earn us a victory against the forces of commercialization and sprawl than waging war against each other. When things are going well, it's easy to see that. We're a team. We're good together. We can make each other laugh. We show each other truths that, for some pig-headed reason, are not readily apparent. But add a stressor to the situation and it becomes easy to believe that the alliance is unneccessary. Suddenly we're crossing our arms and trading barbs. The zingers are only momentarily satisfying.

On the first floor of a downtown Target that somehow took 5 flights of stairs to access, I found my husband after waiting for him at the car for 25 minutes. It was Christmas Eve's eve.

"Where the hell have you been?" he asked as he spotted me near the front.

"I've been waiting at the car!" A typical disregard for decibel levels and privacy was evident in my shriek. "Where the hell have you been?"

A middle aged couple walking by looked over with a series of good natured guffaws born of experience. "Don't worry," said the wife, "it'll be over in two more days." They continued merrily along.

The Partner laughed politely, smiling over his shoulder as they passed. I straightface-stared at him until they turned the corner and his smile vanished. We squared off in the aisle between hosiery and popcorn tins. After some seconds of squinty-eyed silence, he stormed off. I sighed and turned toward the automatic sweep of the glass doors, my heels digging loud into the linoleum.

Then the penultimate evening became Christmas Eve and feigned civility begot the next day. We traveled from one state to another and across the line again. All was familial and festive as deep as anyone cared to look. Suddenly it was 11 p.m. on the 25th and The Boss was nestled snug in her sleep sack as The Partner and I fell into our own bed. I'm sure my exhale was audible.

"How about that Christmas kiss?" The Partner suggested.


Edited to add: The Partner sent me the following link in an email today. It was too good not to pass along. Make sure the volume is turned on to fully enjoy another Christmas Kiss.



Lauren said...

You're mirroring my exact experience. It certainly felt like something was amiss until me and the hot sexy manfred were cuddling in bed watching a Christmas "Deal or No Deal" episode.

ps. We shook hands with a four fingered man! You would've been so thrilled!

jen said...

it's amazing isn't it. how easily the partnership can be dismantled, however temporarily...as if we forget who we are and why we are here.

it's weird, how that works.

Mrs. Chicken said...

Oh, yes indeed. We had our smooch in the bathroom at my mom's last night while The Poo was in the tub.

Merry Christmas, friend.

Whirlwind said...

I am so glas we didn't have much travelling to do. But it would have been much better if he didn't have to work last night.

Bobita said...

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I look forward to exchanging space for a day!

Binkytown said...

Its so sad that Christmas is supposed to be so happy and winds up causing so much additional stress. Glad you finally got a smooch. Loved the video too. Merry Belated Xmas!

Jenifer said...

Makes me glad I resisted the guilt trip and stayed home. Hopefully next year we will have Christmas at our new house and I will be a little more festive :)

T. said...

While the hubs and I didn't have far to travel - only five miles in either direction of our house - we definetly dismantled our marriage in that five minute drive each day (Christmas eve and Christmas day.)

So annoyed with each other that it took all of Boxing day for us to remember we actually liked each other.

Hence our Christmas kisses came very late to the party.

toyfoto said...

I am SERIOUSLY thinking there's something to be said for actually HAVING a "War on Christmas" not just pontificating about some commercial sales nonsense they way Bill O'Reilly's been doing.

Seriously, I think my marriage would be so much better off if we didn't have to travel/host/shop/deal/suffer ... obsess ...