No matter how much we love our family, by December 26th some of us are ready to branch off from the holiday family tree so we don’t snap.
It’s usually nothing personal, we just need a little down time – one hermit hour or maybe 24 – after weeks of planning, shopping, partying and decorating. This is exactly what happened to Merry (not her real name, but certainly an appropriate pseudonym for the season.)
Merry has a rare and commendable blend of family. She enjoys spending the holidays – as well as time year ‘round – not only with her partner’s grown child but also his former wife.
The Bradys made family “bunching” look easy, but those of us who have actually lived it offscreen know that it’s difficult enough to fill in the squares with new faces, much less smiling faces. But Merry and her extended family have done this.
And yet, on the afternoon of December 26th, Merry found herself Pricelining hotel rooms. Merry was not in a fight with anyone, nor was she sick of her house guests. She just needed a post-Santa reboot and when she realized she could get a last-minute room at the Pfister Hotel for a fraction of what the room went for normally, she summoned the reindeer to queue up in front of the sleigh.
And by that I mean she clicked “buy.”
Of course she had to tell her family she was slipping away, but she wasn’t ready to fess up to the fact that she had treated herself to some much-needed R&R in Milwaukee’s grandest hotel while they ran around and return gifts or respond to email.
So Merry did what any caring family member would do. She told a white Christmas white lie. She simply said she was going to her parents’ house for a spell and that she would see everyone the next day.
And then she drove to the Pfister Hotel. Within minutes, she was wearing a plush white robe, relaxing on the cloud of a mattress and relaxing. Relaxing.
“This was the only time I stayed at the Pfister and it was amazing,” Merry told me over a drink in the Lobby Bar recently.
Eventually, Merry confessed to her partner about her secret yuletide getaway, but her story carries on as one to be told and retold, even more so than the one about the ‘kerchief and the not-stirring mouse.
Merry’s story reminds us to give ourselves the gifts we need, really need, during the holidays, like permission to overindulge and wear sweatpants, to dream big while questioning the upcoming year, to feel hope while acknowledging loss, to feel grateful in the eye of our desire for more and to rest. To rest. And to rest.
That’s the only white Christmas I’m dreaming of.