Much like Mary must have felt traveling for days, nine months pregnant on the back of a mule, I made a ten hour journey today in the back of a Civic being driven by a Dlo. Today's journey was broken up by meals at not one but two diners and an impromptu visit with some dear old family, my mother's cousins. We just so happened to stop off the highway in the very town where they live to get a bite and my mother just so happened to direct us to a shopping center directly behind their house. Just so happened is highly suspect, but there you have it. Next thing you know we were climbing out of the car, heading up the walk to ring their bell. This was our second attempt. The first was aborted upon realizing we had the wrong house. Thank God - I can imagine the look on my mother's face, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" trilling out of her mouth, as a stranger opened the front door. "Where is Cousin Johnny??" she'd sputter before the realization of our mistaken location came to her.
But there we were, gingerly climbing the path up to the front door, my father's "Oh look, they salted the walk for us!" an all too predictable joke that would surely be making another appearance for Cousin Johnny when he greeted us.
My mother's insistence that we weren't staying, weren't to take off our coats, only were going to say Merry Christmas and then be on our way was as realistic as a six foot tall leprechaun wearing a yarmulke and toe shoes. Our cousins insisted we come in and have coffee and dessert with them. Very old school. Very yummy, too: dessert was delightful Italian pastries; sfogliatella (yum!), cannoli (double yum!) and those multi-color mini-cake-slice cookies... I never was crazy for them though tonight, I could have been tempted. It was all enticing.
My mother, who earlier today announced in the car with some concession that she and my father were no longer Dlos In Training but Full-On Dlo (I consider it a gift in the spirit of the season that I didn't inform her they'd been Dlo for several years now), felt bad that we'd intruded on their dessert. It was obvious though that our unexpected visit was a deeply felt treat, a true gift of the season. Family is family. What ever happened to stopping by to say hello to the people you love?
Coats on, scarves tightened, we headed back to the Civic to resume our journey. "Thanks for salting the walk for us!" my father shouted back.
Same old, same old.