Lessons Learned From Driving Home for Christmas

-Family is this very deep, complex thing that for most people becomes everything. It informs your entire life.- Ezra Miller.png

My family is at times a strange thing to describe. We are a troupe of strong, resilient individuals each one of us with a backstory that seems straight out of a YA dystopian novel. Those of us who are left are an odd mix of strong, charming, cynical and loving. Openly sweet and suspicious within the safety of cloistered ranks. Here are some of the things I learned while driving home and being with my family for the first time in months for the holidays. Be prepared for feels, light food porn and lots of inside jokes.

  • Driving to DFW is difficult from South Texas. The drive is about 4 hours and over 200 miles. I regret everything about the drive.
  • That being said, listen to your GPS. It could literally save you 3 hours.
  • Getting pulled over is terrifying, not even considering the current state of the world.
    • Real talk though, if the pursuing officer starts asking about “how much” you have in luggage in the backseat; don’t sweat it but answer flatly. That’s an opening question to civil asset forfeiture and it’s awful. Be informed. Save a life.
    • But it did also start a wonderful hashtag. #FreeAmanda
    • I did get out okay, though. Just a warning.
  • There is nothing quite like being able to lay down after a 6 hour drive.
  • Never question why your homeopathic aunt has a cupping machine.
    • Just don’t ask.
  • Kids are in fact brattier today than they ever were but it takes a brat to recognize a brat.
  • The 12 year age difference between my little cousin and I is nearly insurmountable now, which is normal.
  • There’s nothing like being able to hold the guinea pigs you’ve seen only in pictures for the first time ever.
    Look at my babies!
  • Host attire is acceptable when the date is with a friend you’ve had for 6 years.
      • Speaking of long term friendship, I’m curious as to when people will stop assuming we’re dating. There is literally no more of a platonic relationship than between Carlos and I.
  • Daiso is still the most magical place on earth.
  • When a new Korean BBQ joint opens up, TRY IT.
    • Especially when your waiter looks like this:
      Look at this glorious, cheeky bastard. His name is Richard. If you’re ever at Gen Korean BBQ, ask for him.
  • Find and marry someone who looks at you the way I look at sizzling Korean beef.
    • I seriously gave my bulgogi bedroom eyes.
      • Don’t judge me.
  • Carlos and I have a lot of traditions and occasionally, it is okay to break them.
  • Revolving sushi is also something I’m excited for.
  • There’s an interesting moment in meeting your friend’s sister and hoping that she doesn’t hate you.
    • She doesn’t hate me.
  • Mozart Bakery is still the best bakery out there.
  • Taco Bueno is and forever will be my first stop in DFW.
  • So many bad choices
  • Chicken Express is not far after that.
  • Unless you are receiving life lessons while in line at the Chicken Express and then it’s up to you whether to accept the forthcoming mission to achieve your destiny  or to just drown your misery in sweet tea and corn nuggets.
  • Kirin Court is still the best place to exchange Christmas gifts.
    • Even more so if you screech so loud that everyone assumes you were proposed to.
    • The gift was better than a ring.
  • My car may be small but I get miles per gallon like you wouldn’t imagine.
  • Do not ask a man who leaves a comic book shop with two issues of Jem and the Holograms about the aesthetic and meaning of Daredevil as a hero.
  • Sometimes, it’s okay to ignore when your name is called in the middle of the night at a grocery store. Sometimes it isn’t.
  • Kingsman is now a Christmas movie for me and I’m okay with that.
  • Be careful when you name things.
    • That being said: I did get a new sewing machine. His name is Klaus and he’s much better than my current machine, Fritz.
      • Stop snickering. I can hear you.
  • Sometimes a bottle of wine that is essentially thrown at you by a pushy salesman will be the best part of a holiday dinner.
  • Occasionally, LiveTweeting is the only way to cope with a bratty little cousin.
  • That being said though, I can’t imagine how difficult it is to be compared to someone like me.
    • I was very smart as a child (still am mostly) and was highly praised for my strength, intelligence and for my excellence in nearly anything I touched. So I can’t imagine the pressure of being compared to me. In a lot of ways, my little cousin and I are two sides of the same coin and that even further brings up my empathetic concerns that he isn’t able to develop his own personality while stuck in the shadow of me and the rest of the family.
  • Southern families and Southern people have a very hard time “toning down” a holiday meal.
    • We’ve faced a lot of death over the years, so we’re still not sure how to cook for so few people.
  • Always ask someone what their pronouns are!
  • I keep getting told that I have a “radio voice” which is hilarious as a voice actor, podcaster and Cecil Palmer cosplayer.
  • Having allergies means that your aunt’s new and very cute dogs are nothing but overactive death-traps.
  • There are moments where you will have to explain jokes to your aunts and that moment you may or may not suddenly care about who you are and if they know who you are.
  • I am surprised at the places that I can get to back home without my GPS which include:
    • My best friend’s house
    • The local video store
    • Local colleges
    • The cemetery where my mother and grandparents are buried.
      • Side note: if Blue by Mai Yamane and Yoko Kanno comes on as you drive into the cemetery, just accept the tears.
  • The drive home may be easier. Pray it’s easier.
  • Buc-cee’s is still a magical land of clean bathrooms and delicious food.
  • If given the chance, I do not like making stops if that means I can save time.
    • Having a hybrid and not having to stop for gas enables this part of me.

I learned a lot this Christmas season and during this drive that took me over 10 hours round trip and over hundreds of miles. I learned that I am at times envious of a family’s ability to forgive and forget. To let time pass and heal wounds. I am caught just as heavily as the rest of my family in the great burden of being left behind. To be one of the few still left on this Earth as those we love and cherish have gone before us. We are left with the weight of their stories; their ghosts and that weight fills rooms, burdens hearts and shifts relationships. We are strong. So strong. Too strong. Too quick to hold onto judgement. Stay steadfast to opinions. To keep memories long gone front and center. We are loving, too gracious. We open doors for all who need it, regardless of knowing all of the trappings of being hurt.

My family is complex and there are no words to adequately describe how I feel, what I feel and how I will move forward with the heavy burden of their excellence,complex legacies  and the inevitable flaws of their humanity, but I hope to do so with the same quiet fortitude my grandfather had, my grandmother’s grace under pressure, my father’s wit and humor, my mother’s intelligence and the host of traits, quirks and flaws I’ve picked up from the women who raised me to be in part the person I am today: for better or for worse.



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I'm just your everyday human person with a keen eye for what's really happening. Be prepared for wit, humor and Dr. Who references. Loves include anime, writing, eating sweets, art and visits to the park to feed the ducks.

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