The announcement that I spend Christmas in the Bahamas is generally followed by a cavalcade of folks hatin' on a sistah. Yes, as I look out the window, I see palm trees swaying in a gentle breeze. I've traded in my winter coat for a deliciously brief --but not obscene -- sundress. Last night, I got re-acquainted with my friends Bacardi Anejo and Coke at a house party. So, on the surface, it seems like I've got it made in the shade.
However, I tell folks please, don't envy me. The holidays are the holidays. And you know what I mean. Small wonder that more Swedes tend to kill themselves during the holidays than at any other time throughout the year. Just one of those useless factoids you learn in college. Just how you go home to your folks and get grilled, trust me, the same thing happens to me. Only it's warmer here. My relatives still expect me to bring home "a nice boy" and give me "The Face" when I arrive empty-handed. I keep getting asked, "So Wendy, is this 'The Year.'" I know they don't mean The Year of Living Dangerously. Instinctively, I know they're asking if the new year is the year that I'd actually settle down. I'm getting it especially now that I turn forty in three days. Aunts tend to say, "Gyal, don't eat too much peas and rice. Man don't like woman who too fat." My mother tends to supervise the installation ofanything electronic that I bring home, not letting the fact that she is the least technical person on the planet to get in the way.
I say this to say that "The Family Coakley"and "The Family Thompson" is more or no less dysfunctional than The Family Stone, one of my recent favorite Christmas movies. The older I get, the more I come to love and appreciate my family's quirks and well-meaning comments. Because the truth of the matter is, I am unmarried. I do weigh more than I would like to. Invariably (as much as I hate to admit it sometimes), I do get something valuable out of my mother's seemingly endless critiques. And I'm sure if I died in the house, someone in my large-ass family would find me and mourn me. I don't really get that in America. America can be very big and sometimes rather impersonal for a single Black female.
So, as you guys make your way home for the holidays, believe me when I say that I know that, geography aside, your relatives are going to tax your patience. They're going to make you want to reach for that extra glass of hooch. But think, as I am now, of my friend Catherine, who lives in Denver, was in D.C. visiting, and, because of the blizzard, was only able to make it home yesterday. And love your family. Appreciate them. Because they're probably the only people with whom you can be your true, unguarded selves ... whether you want to be or not!
Merry Christmas. Happy Hanakkuh. Happy Kwanzaa. What ever you celebrate. Much love to you all.