“I’m sitting in the railway station, got a ticket for my destination.”
— Paul Simon, 1966
“But the dawn is breaking. It’s early morn. The taxi’s waiting. He’s blowing his horn.”
— John Denver, 1966
“Did I remember underpants?”
— Paul Dailing, 2015
The migration has begun. The tossing of socks and boxers and toothpastes into bags. The gassing up of cars. The purchasing or repeated confirming of tickets, arrival times, rides to and from airports, boat docks, stations both train and bus.
On the other end, the migration is discussed as invasion. Where should sundry aunts and cousins be housed? Will invasive dogs be crated or run free? What of meals and shower schedules and the proper allotment of towels and air mattress sheets?
And between invasion and migration, collaboration. The assignation of roles and chains of command on foodstuffs. The Sergeant of Stuffing, the Poobah of Potatoes. You shall whip the cream because that was your father’s role in 1954 and the mantle has passed to thee.
Facebook photo reviews to bone up on which kids belong to which cousin so you know which name to include with, “That is not a toy, _____.” Q&A study sessions with Mom to refresh on who’s coming, who’s not coming, who’s pregnant again and what are the jobs, topics or baby daddies to avoid asking about at dinner.
Cost-benefit analyses of how strongly a particular relative holds a political or religious belief versus how hilarious the relative gets when riled up.
Yes, it’s Thanksgiving, that most American of holidays. We minimize the endemic racism of our forebears, eat more food than would be considered feasible during 98 percent of human history and then talk about all the stuff we have to buy.
Or we gather together with family, friends and loved ones to share moments of joy, reflection and community. Six of one, half dozen of the other.
Christmas is coming of course, that most glorious season that runs from August 28-June 15 of each American year.
It’s pretty terrible. Thanksgiving with stress, guilt and credit debt.
But Christmas provides one undeniable good. It’s a lightning rod for commerce. It made Thanksgiving ancillary, so kept the latter comparatively free of the notion that you are failing your family, your society, your self, your nation, your economy and your god if you do not spend hundreds of dollars you do not have.
Thousands for some.
But the beginning of this endless season starts with a bus ticket or a new tank of gas. It starts with plans, calls, schedules, time off work. The season starts this week as the first trickle of people pass miles and miles to show up at doorways they once knew, turn the latch, walk in and yell, “Hello? I’m home!”