The Yearly Issue

I’m at home. Epes did indeed surprise me yesterday. The night-time guy told me to come over to the terminal after delivery (I delivered in Greensboro) and we would talk about it. He kind of tried to get me to stay out, but I was rather taken by the idea of going home by then. So what we wound up doing was that I took a load down from Greensboro to Lexington, South Carolina. From there I picked up a load in Fort Mill, North Carolina, which I brought home with me over Christmas. I left Fort Mill in time to be just ahead of Mara in traffic coming home. So I came home with her last night.
I’d like to say that we’re all merry around here, but there’s still the ever present strain. I bought Mara a stuffed reindeer, and Mama a small wall plaque. That’s all I had money for. Mara loved her reindeer. She kept hugging up on me, and acted like she was just tickled to death to see me. But then later in the evening I asked her something and she snapped at me. She came in later and apologized, and said she was feeling down. My heart just sank. I thought we were on a pretty good keel there for a while. But it looks like we’re never going to escape the tension.
A lot of Mara’s problem is that she wants me to go with her to visit her family on Christmas Day. I’ve never done that. I never have because the option has always been to leave Mama here by herself on Christmas Day, and that’s unacceptable. You see, we can’t be here on Christmas morning and go up to visit her family later in the day. It has to be all or nothing. And as long as it’s all or nothing, I will choose my mother over her family every single time.
This issue raises its ugly head every year. I understand where Mara is coming from. I genuinely do. For one thing, I’m sure my absence is rather conspicuous every year. And somehow Mara feels like she won’t be accepted as an adult in her family until she’s shown up as an adult with her husband in tow. I understand all that. I really do. I understand how she feels. But how can I just leave Mama here by herself on Christmas Day? How?
Anyway, I still hold out hope that we’ll have a good Christmas. We’ve removed the monetary, fancy gift element from our Christmas completely. Maybe we can find some worth in each other for a change.

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