This is the first year I haven’t had to travel for Christmas in twelve years. No driving six hours from Northern Idaho down to the Boise area, no flying from Atlanta, Georgia, no coming in from Seattle, Washington. There’s no traveling from Seattle to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, either. I would say zero travel as I’m not sure driving across the bridge to Seattle to have dinner with my Aunt counts as traveling but there’s always someone that likes to point out the technicalities. I’d say it doesn’t count.

We’ve sent gifts to people. They’ve sent some to us. Our little tree has a cache of gifts that will remind us how much we’re loved by people who aren’t with us to celebrate. Our biggest gift won’t be under the tree – we’re purchasing a house and we’re on the final stretch to secure it as ours. THE is excited about the house itself. I’m excited about his negotiation skills at getting the price knocked down. I have a student loan that has loomed over me, slowly getting smaller and more manageable, and now, adding a mortgage loan on top of it just sounds frightening. Don’t get me wrong, though, bring on the house!

I’ve been asked by a lot of people if staying home with THE is really what I want to do – I mean, Christmas is when you’re supposed to be surrounded by family, right? True, but I finally get to spend a holiday with THE alone and not with obligations of talking to his or my own family and putting on a front of happiness when all I really want to do is sleep in an extra hour or be left alone to read for maybe 2 chapters (the whole book if they’d ever let me) to detox. There’s been zero rest between work and family obligations. 2013 has been the year of family gatherings and for once, I get to sit something out. I am so excited. Yes, I’ll miss my sister, parents, and grandmother, but I’ll also be very happy to not deal with airports, sick travelers (that always get me sick), the stress of packing and getting out the door on time to deal with Puget Sound Drivers (scary little beasties when the weather turns sour).

Don’t get me wrong, I love to travel and see new places. I love to explore the world around me and learn more about the subcultures in a local vicinity or a brand new place and a whole new culture. Traveling is one of my favorite things to do. If I could be paid a real wage with benefits to be a travel blogger, I’d jump in without question. I despise Christmas traveling. That’s the time of year that travel morons decide to try their hand at TSA checkpoints. The announcer on the loudspeaker repeats “no liquids…” and there’s someone with a huge bottle of who-knows-what. The announcer repeats, “laptops need to be in their own container when going through the x-ray,” and there’s someone who doesn’t understand that also applies to their laptop. I know I can be that dense at times, too, so I should give them some benefit of the doubt, but I’m not entirely sure any of the TSA protocols should come as a complete surprise.

It’s no secret that I’m an atheist. I’ve had a few people ask me why I would celebrate Christmas when I don’t believe in a god or his son. (Coincidentally to some Catholics, God, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit are all rolled up into The Holy Trinity -I was raised as such a Catholic-and are basically the same thing meaning Jesus is his own dad so how’s that for a mind-bender?) For me, Christmas is a time of snuggling into warm fluffy blankets, eating food that causes drowsiness, and giving gifts that loved ones can look at and be reminded they’re loved. It’s not a heart-wrenching story of getting left out in the cold or being required to stay in a barn with little to no insulation. It’s an incredibly convenient reason to celebrate close relationships by drinking and eating.

I treat peoples’ birthdays like mini-Christmas, too. It’s your birthday and I love you? You get a card, home made food, and small thing that hopefully reminds you when I’m not around that I think you’re a pretty big deal. I believe I’ll only exist while I’m on Earth. I don’t believe I’ll be reborn. I don’t believe I’ll go to Heaven or Hell or Purgatory or anywhere. I’ll cease to exist when my life extinguishes. I will take every minute to celebrate my loved ones, even if the reason to celebrate originally came from a belief I don’t carry. And, now that I don’t have to be the center of attention for family gatherings, I think it will be rather nice to see everyone in 2014, after I get my 2 days of zero obligation holidays.

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