Christmastime with Mom and Bill, Part II


-- चार हजार दो सौ और दस --

I just knew I was going to forget something in yesterday's entry about the weekend in Idaho -- maybe the most important thing!

With one exception, before this year, the one thing I always got a picture of during my December visits with Mom and Bill was their Christmas Tree. According to Mom -- and I realize now she has mentioned this in years past -- she has only ever put it up for me. More than once I actually helped her put it up. And before this year, the only exception was 2012, which kind of makes sense since that was the year I took Mom back into Coeur d'Alene to visit Bill in the hospital after his bout with sepsis left his throat severely damaged. Holly did come by the house that year, but only for a couple of hours the evening I arrived. Otherwise it was mostly just hanging out with Mom at her house. That visit did yield one of my all-time favorite photos with her, though.

Anyway, otherwise, most years I tried to get a group shot of everyone in front of the tree. I didn't manage that last year, and only got a rather pretty shot of the Christmas Tree itself.

Not long after Shobhit and I got to the house on Saturday evening, I said, "So where's the Christmas Tree? Shall I help you put it up?"

And Mom hesitated slightly shyly, then said, "I'm not putting the tree up this year." Of course I responded with mild incredulousness: "Why not!" And she said, "I'm only be putting it up for you. Bill says he doesn't want it, and Christopher says he doesn't want it." I guess it's a fair point to ask what the point is of going to the trouble just for the two days I'd be visiting -- although I still think it would make a difference to them to have it up on Christmas Day. I usually set their gifts under the tree, and now I just had to set them on the windowsill leaning against the window.

Bill did make a comment later that he'd like the Christmas Tree up, sometime on Sunday evening I think. He probably did tell Mom at some point that he didn't care, though, and it wouldn't surprise me if now he didn't even remember saying that on Sunday.

I guess I have no good reason to demand that Mom have a Christmas Tree. The only reason we ever had one when I was growing up was because I wanted it; given her own preferences, she'd never have set one up. I still maintain that it's not Christmas without one. But, I can take care of that in my own home. Mom and Bill have chronic pain issues and whether I put it up for her or not, she still has to get it down after I leave. Of course Christopher is perfectly capable of doing that, but if none of them really care, then whatever. Oddly, Mom still keeps talking about how she wants there to be snow on Christmas -- she doesn't especially want a Christmas Tree, but she does want a White Christmas.

-- चार हजार दो सौ और दस --

Incidentally, this year Shobhit's being very weird, and disappointingly negative, about the Christmas lights specifically. He's never once bitched about them before, and this is our fifteenth Christmas together. As someone who grew up Hindu, Christmas has never meant anything to him, and the small extent to which he engages is just for my benefit. But, he never actively complained about it before -- until this year. And it's driving me crazy.

He insists the lights are too bright, which in my view is insane. He also keeps wanting to draw the blinds, trying to say that it makes it less private by making it easier for people in the building across the street to see into our living room. First of all, no one over there is paying attention. Secondly, it's actually easier to see into the living room with regular lights on and without the Christmas lights. Third, a big part of my love of these Christmas decorations is their visibility from the street, which can't be done with the fucking blinds drawn.

I truly have no idea why Shobhit is suddenly hung up about the lights -- in his view he's "compromising" by just keeping them on when I'm at home and not sleeping, but whenever I go to bed, he wants me to turn them off. I much prefer to keep them on at least until we've both gone to bed, just to keep them visible from outside. For me, the festive decorations as seen from both within and from outside is all part of the experience. Shobhit has tried to say he never complained in the past because he was only ever home for Christmas for a couple of weeks, but that's transparent bullshit. I have always put the decorations up the day after Thanksgiving, and kept them up until the day after New Year's -- and that includes the six Christmases he was still living at home full time before moving to New York in 2010.

It feels to me like this is just another example, of an increasing number, of Shobhit finding ways to drain the joy out of my life. To be clear, he's not quite successfully doing that -- I'm still loving the holiday season as ever -- but it's not quite as fun as usual with his inexplicably behaving like this. He knows full well how much I love Christmas, and he quite literally wants to shut it off. He even keeps making comments about how he "doesn't like surprises" and isn't even interested in gifts. Again, a big part of the holiday tradition for a holiday that has always meant a great deal to me. His attitude this year is unusually dispiriting at times, and I hate it.

And: he doesn't give a flying fuck how much I hate it. To him, the problem is that I don't care about how much he hates having the Christmas lights on. Except, as I said before, he never acted like this before. I truly don't get it.

I guess I'll give him credit for this, at least: in the past he has often complained about my insistence on going down to Olympia on Christmas Eve instead of waiting until Christmas morning. This year, he already put in to get time off of work on Christmas Eve, clearly with the expectation that we're driving down to Dad and Sherri's that day. He hasn't complained about that at all this year -- and, between the two examples, that actually would be far more important to me than keeping the Christmas lights on when I'm not even at home or awake. I guess I should just take what I can get.

-- चार हजार दो सौ और दस --


-- चार हजार दो सौ और दस --

Oh, another thing I forgot to write about in yesterday's entry -- about the trip home! Or I suppose, I could mention the travel on both days, as fog at SeaTac Airport caused an array of delays both on Saturday and yesterday -- and, I presume, on Sunday, but we didn't travel that day.

Ever since starting these December visits to Wallace, Idaho, I have never driven there that time of year. I'm pretty sure the primary reason I didn't drive over the whole way in 2009 was simply because Shobhit needed his car for whatever work commitment he had; he also had his car every year between 2010 and 2016. As I mentioned in yesterday's entry, though, the first few years, Holly actually drove all 80 miles in from Wallace to the Spokane Airport to pick me up and drive me back. I didn't start picking up a rental car at the airport instead until 2012, and have done so ever since. And I've done that instead of renting a car to drive all the way in Seattle because I refuse to drive over Snoqualmie Pass in the winter -- I did that once with Danielle and it was truly harrowing. Never again!

That said, it was easy to have mixed feelings about the decision this year, as long after the plane tickets were booked -- two instead of one this time, but Shobhit was convinced to come when we realized I could get one of them with miles so I really only paid for one -- Snoqualmie Pass was more than passable. Honestly I still prefer flying to Spokane to save on four hours of driving (one way) -- but, of course, when the planes are actually on time. And they often are not. I remember coming back from my December 2015 trip and having to text Tommy that I was, like, five hours delayed.

Last Saturday, Shobhit's and my flight wound up being delayed three hours -- after we had decided to leave even earlier than necessary if it were on time, since there was nothing else to do. We left the condo at about 8:30 a.m. and walked to Capitol Hill Light Rail Station instead of waiting for the bus to get to our building and take us downtown. True to form, we had a ridiculous number of bags for only a two-night trip: two small suitcases; Shobhit's backpack with his laptop in it; my requisite shoulder bag. It was all still light enough to walk the half mile to the light rail station fairly easily. And then we didn't get notification of the first delay on our flight until we actually arrived at the airport. The flight that was scheduled to take off at 11:17 took off instead around 2:30.

Landing in Spokane at 3:30 or so, and stopping at the Costco in Couer d'Alene after picking up our rental car, it was 5:30 by the time we reached the Hercules Inn in Wallace, at least 6:00 by the time we got over to Mom and Bill's house. For a flight that only takes an hour, then a drive that takes typically 80 minutes, we had nine hours of travel. Granted, three of those were just sitting around at the airport. And I declared it was still more relaxing than if we had driven the entire way. It's just annoying knowing that if we had driven, all the way from Seattle where we left at 8:30 a.m., we'd have arrived in Wallace by 2:30.

And then? Yesterday was potentially worse -- our booked flight was delayed two hours -- but Shobhit managed to work the situation to our advantage, precisely because of our arriving at the airport early again: he got us on an earlier flight. Technically that flight was delayed even more so; it was supposed to leave at 9:45 and it took off the exact minute -- 1:04 -- that our original flight was scheduled to take off. For us, it was as though there were never any delays at all -- even though several flights were delayed because no one can land at SeaTac until the fog is at least at half a mile visibility. Or maybe it's a mile? I forget what it is, there's some threshold. And the fog did not life until sometime soon after noon yesterday.

If it had been just me, I would have simply resigned myself to the delay. Not Shobhit -- and I have to admit, this is actually something I could learn from him: go to the gate and ask if you can get on an earlier flight. Which Shobhit did no less than three times, after being told twice that they couldn't do anything at all until they knew when flights would be given the go-ahead again. Still, his relentless persistence about this got us on that earlier flight, which easily filled up otherwise. Had he been less persistent, other people on delayed flights may have gotten in ahead of us and kept us from making it on that plane.

We actually got out onto the tarmac at something like 12:45, but it took some time before we could actually take off because of the backed up traffic of outbound aircraft -- the same thing happened on Saturday. That's how, when I finally looked at the clock on my phone right after taking off, it said 1:05. And our originally scheduled flight was at 1:04 -- that flight didn't actually take off until at least an hour after we landed.

And from then on, we made incredibly good time, even on public transit getting home. We were home by 3:30. Shobhit and I made bagel sandwiches for a late lunch / early dinner, and he also made some raspberry banana bread -- he keeps making banana bread now that he's all into baking, each time bananas we have at home go ripe. Anyway, in no time I was deep into uploading my photos and then writing yesterday's entry.

Clearly this sort of epilogue entry isn't full of stuff quite as interesting about the weekend. Oh well!

-- चार हजार दो सौ और दस --


[posted 12:20 pm]