- by Michael!

I am writing this from my spot at my in-laws. I’ve had a delicious dinner and am ensconced on the reclining couch, watching reruns of Big Bang Theory, sitting down to write this week’s blog post. I had intended this to be a light-hearted discussion of diverse regional holiday traditions, standard observational fare.

Instead, I will be discussing a perverse national holiday tradition:

Traveling on the holidays.

It’s hard to believe, as I sit here enjoying the post-meal-bliss and good company, that only an hour ago I was fighting to stay awake as I slung around mountain highway curves, deserted but for us and the occasional deer. Joanie occasionally slapped me in order to help me stay awake. (At least, that’s what she said – I think she was enjoying herself more than the task really required.)

And just two hours before that, I was slogging through the cutthroat, Darwinian jungle that is rush-hour traffic in the bustling metropolis of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I swear, I was cut off by an Amish buggy hurtling along at ninety miles an hour.

It beggars belief that a mere six hours ago, Joanie and I were screaming at each other as a result of our terror at the prospect of either running out of gas in our dinky rental car in the middle of the New Jersey turnpike (said rental car can be favorably compared to a Campbell’s soup can with a much broader turn radius and worse radio reception) or leaving the relative safety of the highway in order to search for possible gas stations in a neighborhood of Jersey City that did not appear to have gas stations. Or police officers. Or any businesses other than pawn shops and self-storage units.

And my current level of contented comfort makes it impossible to fathom that, eight hours ago, Joanie and I exited the subway in lower Manhattan to make our way to the train to New Jersey only to find that – unmentioned by the directions we’d both looked up on multiple sources – the train station in question was currently closed, and in order to get to where we needed to go we had to return to the subway and take a different branch of the same train system that may or may not take us to the right part of Jersey City.

But the hardest thing to believe is that we – and here I mean a huge proportion of people in this country – undergo similarly Herculean efforts twice each year.

Don’t get me wrong. Turkey and dressing (or stuffing, I’m not picky) are collectively worth the trouble. But holiday travel is pretty much awful, no matter how far you’re going.

At least this year for Christmas, we’re not driving across Pennsylvania. We’re going the easy route and fl… flying… flying out of… JFK.