The Christmas Pilgrimage

Every year, millions of people load up presents, climb into their cars, and flock toward their families. This year, I was one of those millions. You probably were, too.

After almost 90 hours in airplanes, I figured three hours in a car to see my mother wouldn’t be too difficult. Unfortunately, those millions of people who loaded up presents, climbed into cars, and flocked toward families got in my way. The traffic was less-than-pleasant.

My mother lives in her hometown of Tazewell, Va. It’s in Southwest Virginia with a population just north of 122. If you’ve ever seen the Andy Griffith Show you’re intimately familiar with Tazewell.

And because it’s what one does, I battled the traffic to celebrate Christmas with my mother.

She wasn’t really expecting me because holidays have always surprised my family. As a kid, it was not unusual to hear something like . . .

“Wait. What!? It’s Halloween? Here, why don’t you wear this bucket on your head? You can go as a talentless singer.”

Despite the passing decades, it’s nice to know that not much has changed.

One of my family’s Christmas traditions involves a discussion of how it, “Just doesn’t feel like Christmas.” Then, we briefly talk about playing Christmas music and inevitably decide we’d rather watch action movies. Nothing says “Christmas” in our house like Fragile, Ransom, or Tremors.

Apparently, we also forgot to get our turkey and ham and whatever. Candidly, I’m being generous with the “we.” It was my mother who forgot that we needed to eat on Christmas Day. I headed out to the Tray Ting House.

Who doesn't love a Chinese Chicken with a Lobster on a tray?

Who doesn’t love a Chinese Chicken with a Lobster on a tray?

A little-known fact about the American melting pot is that every town – no matter its size – has a Chinese restaurant that’s open nearly every day of the year. So, Christmas dinner was a sweet and sour chicken combination platter.

I asked the cashier how many people would come through on Christmas Day.

“You would be surprised,” she said with a combination of disappointment and consternation. That’s all I got, my egg roll had finished frying.

A few hours later, I was hungry.

Hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas!

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