It wasn't just those buying gifts for friends and relatives. It was "regulars" who bought a bottle of booze a week, buying 2 or 3. Finally I asked a few of them why the extra was needed. One man rolled his eyes and smirked, "Relatives. The relatives will be swarming the house. This is the only way to survive." Ah...I understood. Unfortunately many of us don't enjoy spending time with our relatives, though these are supposed to be the people who care about you more than anyone else in the world. Studies have been done showing that while few of us would be willing to put our lives at risk for strangers, some of us would do it for friends, and the extent to which most would be willing to do it for family gets stronger as the relationship gets closer. Maybe for a cousin, definitely for a sibling, parent or child.
So we love our relatives, but it would seem many of us don't particularly like them. Some will drink a bit extra, or find other ways to cope with the yearly tradition of spending time with people you didn't get to choose, but have to accept as family. Others will, for whatever reason, spend time with people they choose to regard as family. There is a saying that "family is a circle of people who love you." In that respect, blood relations are not as important as the love and support you feel from those friends who fill the function of "family" in your life.
Me? I'll be enjoying spending time with my family, though one son will be in another state where he lives now, with his girlfriend's family for Christmas...for the first time. We'll miss him, of course. Even when he was in college, he'd come home for the holidays. But we understand her desire to have him with her, spending time with her family. And they'll drive here for the following week to ring in the new year with us. Another son will be here for Christmas morning and brunch, then will have Christmas dinner with his girlfriend's family. But that is the way of things. Parenthood, done right, is the epitome of "planned obsolescence" . Do it well and they become independent...as they should.
No matter how you spend your holidays, I hope you will truly enjoy who you are with, and the time you spend with them. Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year to everyone!
I've been getting great reviews on my latest book, Only One Man Will Do, which is the sequel to For The Love Of His Life, which is also still getting positive feedback. In the first book, Veronica has never been away from her family or Grand Marais, Minnesota for Christmas. But she's fallen in love with Raul, an actor who has gone back to Hollywood. For her birthday he gave her a ticket to fly out to spend the week of Christmas with him.
Excerpt from For The Love Of His Life:
Raul turned back to Veronica who was standing shock-still in the same place.
"Don't you like my house?"
She shook her head, "I'm in shock. I've never even seen a house this big except in pictures. Now that I'm in it, I really think I'll have to drop pebbles or something, to find my way back if I wander around."
He began to walk in the same direction that Edilberto had gone.
"Come on back here my love. Let me show you what I have planned to welcome you here."
As she entered the dining room in the back of the house, her nostrils were assailed by various smells of delicious foods. She stared in awe at the table that held platters of tamales, grilled meat and vegetables, and a round covered bowl shaped to hold tortillas.
"What is all of this?" She began.
"A traditional Mexican-style feast for us to celebrate being together for the Navidad," he went over to a punch bowl and used the ladle to fill two glasses with a red liquid. He walked back to Veronica and offered her one of the glasses.
"Edilberto makes an excellent sangria. And his wife made the food. Between them, I am very well-fed. I asked them to make a meal that would let my señorita know how much she means to me. Even the salsa is home-made."
"Do we serve ourselves?"
He nodded, "Yes. I've given both of them the entire week off. I figure that you know how to cook, and we want to be naked for most of the time. I'll worry about cleaning everything up after you leave. For this whole week, I want to focus only on you and how much I love you. You have changed my life, Nica, and for the better. That alone, is worth celebrating."
As they ate, they talked constantly, updating each other on what had been going on in their lives, and sharing anecdotes. Once they had both eaten all they could, Raul got up and brought two coffee cups and an urn over to the table.
"I hope you don't mind that we had to eat first," he winked at her, "But Edilberto and Laura both felt so guilty that I'm paying them for their week off, that they insisted on having all of the food at eating temperature when we walked in the door. Laura left when I headed out in the limo. She had to get started on cooking for their family. But I didn't want to insult them by telling them we wouldn't be eating until after we had wild monkey sex in the foyer. So I agreed that we would eat as soon as we got back."
Veronica smiled as she sipped the coffee.
"Umm! Delicious! What's in it? Cinnamon?"
"Yes, and a hint of chocolate. If you think all of this was good, wait'll you try Laura's flan!"
She rubbed her belly, "Flan? I'm already going to need to digest for hours!"
He winked at her, "We can go relax in the Jacuzzi out by the pool. I'll bring the punch bowl out there, and we can continue to celebrate by the light of the moon. No stars, of course, since there's so much damn light pollution here, but we can pretend we see them like up by you."
As they sipped their coffee, Veronica asked, "Is everyone who works for you Hispanic?"
Raul nodded, "Yes. I try to spread the wealth around to my fellow hispanicos.
In a state where there are so many of us, most don't make even minimum wage, since they're agricultural workers or day-laborers. That's why Edilberto and Laura were so insistent that they make so much food for us before she went home to make their family's feast. Neither of them have ever had a paid vacation before, even for the holidays. I didn't have the heart to tell them it's because I'm too selfish to share you with anyone else."
Veronica smiled, "But you didn't have to offer to pay them, just to give them some time off."
Raul shrugged, "What can I say? I met a woman...a beautiful blonde goddess, and she has touched my soul. I'm not the man I used to be. I feel like Ebeneezer Scrooge, after all the ghost have visited. In any small way possible, I want to help other people like you helped me. Besides, they are such hard workers, and they have six kids. They can use the money, and I know they'll appreciate being able to celebrate without having to come and clean up after me, for a change."
"And the limo driver? And the kid at the airport?"
Raul nodded, "As I said, I'm learning to like spreading my wealth around." He noticed her empty cup, "Are you ready for the flan, or just for more coffee?"
"I think I can fit a little bit of flan into me, then we need to get all of this food put away so we can reheat it for the next time. Getting up and moving around will help my digestion."
"Then we can head out to the Jacuzzi?" He asked hopefully.
"You just want to see me naked," she teased.
He nodded vigorously, "Why yes...yes I do. But then you already knew that."
She giggled. "Bring on the flan."
After the first spoonful, Veronica sighed, "Oh my! This is the creamiest, sweetest thing I've ever had on my tongue!"
Raul shook his head, "It's a close second, but you are the creamiest, sweetest thing I've ever had on my tongue."
When Veronica blushed he took her hand and kissed the back of it.
"Why Nica, mi cariña! You're blushing. Quite a nice shade of pink, I might add. The same shade of pink your whole body turns when you come hard..."
"I think it's time to put away the food. I need to move around to digest my dinner. Otherwise I'm going to jump you right here in the dining room and force you to make good on all of these promises of wild sex you've been making!"
"Ah...my Nica. Woman of my dreams. The kitchen's in that direction," he inclined his head.
They spent the next half-hour cleaning up after their feast, then Raul carried the punch bowl with the ladle in it, and Veronica carried the glasses. When they got out to the pool area she giggled.
"A Christmas tree out by the pool?"
Raul nodded, "It's how we roll out here in la-la land. Remember, we never get any snow. Notice the white flecking on the branches? It's similar to the stuff we used on the set when we were supposed to be trudging our way through four feet of snow. It looks real, but like mostly everything out here, it's fake...it's made of sugar and plastic."
He put the punch bowl down and held out his arms to pull Veronica into them. He inhaled deeply with his nose buried in her hair, before it traveled down to her neck. He nibbled at her ear lobe, making her squirm.
"Now, querida, it's time for you to give me what I want the most for Christmas this year...you...naked and at my mercy."
"As long as I get you naked also, señor. I like to look as much as you do!"
"On the count of three? One...two...three!"
They both stripped and climbed down into the Jacuzzi that was sunken into the tile next to the pool. Raul had put the punch bowl within easy reach, and he ladled some sangria into each of their glasses. They clinked their glasses together.
"A toast. To our first Christmas spent together. And to having a whole week of you to myself, with no jobs or family to interrupt."
Veronica nodded, "I've never been away from my family at Christmas before. It would feel weird if I wasn't so happy to be with you."
Raul smiled, "You are my family now, Nica."She smiled as he moved closer to bruise her lips with his.
Want to read more? Find other excerpts and links to reviews at: http://www.fionamcgier.com