We have all seen those sappy Christmas movies where the family gathers together for the holidays and all manner of Sturm und Drang takes place throughout the film, fights ensue, the Christmas feast is usually ruined, and in the case of the Chevy Chase rendition the cat is fried when he bites into the lights for the Christmas tree. The movie always ends with some reconciliation and a feel good family experience everyone will remember.
OK. Is that experience what anyone actually experiences in real life? Probably not, but this year has been especially interesting, so I thought I would write a bit about it. Monique and I flew from Washington, D.C., to Greenville, S.C., to visit with my mother and then to drive from there to my sister’s house near Hilton Head. We intended to stay over the weekend and come back to Greenville on Monday, flying back to Washington late in the day.
We caught an early morning flight on Friday, December 24. Everything was fine. While waiting to board the plane I read a bit and indulged in one of my favorite games, fashion police. One of the people I was commenting on overheard me, and gave me quite a look. Good thing we were behind the security barrier and no one had any weapons. The plane was on time and everything was fine as we departed Washington’s Dulles International Airport.
I called my mother when we got on the plane and told her we were arriving at the airport about two hours later. The flight was great and I thought my mother would probably be there to pick us up either when the plane arrived or shortly thereafter. After several phone calls and two hours of waiting around at the Greenville-Spartenburg Airport—a pleasant enough place but not my favorite hangout—she arrived. It’s a long story… We headed for Hilton Head, made good time, and had a fine evening with my sister and her family.
Then we decided to go to Dove Street, where everyone decorates for the season. The line was long, the decorations were over the top, and the weather was cold. OK. So far so good; that’s what this kind of thing is all about. Afterward we went over to the place where we were staying and settled in for the night. The couple in the apartment above us were having a good time; they made a lot of noise both with voices and music. It wasn’t so bad; we were tired and went to sleep. I woke up a couple of times during the night and they were still partying. I’m not sure when they gave it up for the night, but I know it was after 3 a.m.
The next morning, Christmas morning, we were heading back over to my sister’s house when a couple of fellows came out onto the balcony above where we had been staying and announced that they had really been “raisin’ hell” in a rough southern drawl the night before but didn’t realize we were trying to sleep below them. They were apologetic. “No problem,” I said, “we were tired.”
Christmas at my sister’s was nice; we exchanged gifts (I got an “eatin’ tool” from my brother-in-law) and had a feast. We then went to the beach on Hilton Head; it was a nice day and there were a lot of people out. On Christmas evening we also went to see the new Tron: Legacy movie at the local multiplex. It’s an interesting film, lots of visual effects and fantastic action. I really wanted to see how they would use the original film from the 1980s as a jumping off point for this movie. The result was inventive if not outstanding. I thought that would be the highpoint of the evening. Not so.
When we returned to our apartment on Christmas evening after the night at the theater we walked in and immediately heard above us screaming and arguing. Monique heard someone shout that there was “blood everywhere.” We called my sister, whose place this was, and she called the folks above us, got the young woman who lives there, whom I will call Ginger (not her real name), and found that she was both incoherent and hysterical. My sister called the police and they soon showed up to answer a domestic disturbance. We found that there had been some type of argument, that Ginger’s boyfriend and another man at their house had gotten into a fight, and a butcher knife was drawn and at least one person was cut. The police called the EMS and they took at least one person to the hospital. Ginger came down and sat in our apartment’s living room trying to calm down.
Her characterizations of what had taken place was just so southern redneck. Anyway, Ginger related the story of the fight. She had a uniquely evocative way of expressing herself. One of her first comments was, “I’ve had seven cocktails tonight but I don’t have enough of a buzz to handle this.” I choked back a laugh at that one. Her next “redneckism” was both sad and funny at the same time. “This could be the worst Christmas I have ever had,” she exclaimed as if she may have had worse Christmases but wasn’t sure. A little while later, after going back upstairs for a while, Ginger came back and told us how angry she was about all that had happened, and also how apologetic she was about it. She said she wanted to “kick all of their asses,” punctuating that with a, “I don’t have no felonies,” as if that might make a difference.
Needless to say, this was a bit disconcerting. I’m sorry that these types of incidents take place. This one was fueled by alcohol. I wish I knew how to help them. I’m sure there will be future incidents unless they seek help.
This was the most dramatic event of the Christmas weekend, but on Sunday we had planned to go over to Savannah for the day. But the weather was lousy, rainy and cold, so we decided sightseeing in Savannah was not the highest priority at the moment. In mid-afternoon the rain turned to snow and it snowed well into the evening. It didn’t stick; how could it since the temperature of the ground was still above freezing?
The trip back home proved interesting as well; we drove from my sister’s house near Hilton Head to my mother’s house near Greenville on Monday, December 27, caught a ride to the local airport with my cousin, and waited for our flight to depart for Dulles Airport. The plane left only about 40 minutes late—that was a good thing since the weekend snows had virtually shut down air travel on the eastern seaboard—but we had an interesting experience on arrival in Washington. There was not too much snow, but high winds forced the closing of all but one runway at Dulles so we spent nearly an hour circling the airport. When we finally were cleared for landing it was obvious why the air traffic controllers were limiting operations. The winds were strong, gusting, and shaking the airplane. It was a bit unnerving. We bounced and were jolted, but the pilots set the plane down beautifully and took us to the gate with no further delay.
Thereafter we returned home without any further drama, but without question the weekend as a whole was one to remember.