For all of my childhood years, Christmas was a big family affair. Christmas Eve would be upstairs in my Grandma's apartment with all of my cousins. Christmas Day would be at the house of one of my Dad's brothers or his sister's. Sometimes it would be at my mom's brothers' especially if Grandma was there for the day. One Christmas Grandma fell down the stairs at her son's and she ended up the emergency room all day. After she passed away, there was no real central meeting place. My cousins were also getting older and starting families on their own. There was family drama on my dad's side of the family, so by the mid-90's there was no big gatherings there either. By that time, however, I was out my own and traveling to Chicago for the holidays was a pain in the butt.
I was living by myself in Yuma when I decided to spend a Christmas in a way I had dreamed of. I camped out in the middle of the desert on Christmas Eve. I had tunes on my boom box and a cooler full of beer. It was very peaceful being miles away from everyone and everything. The next morning I climbed a nearby peak. The weather was so nice and warm I did the return hike in the buff. Good thing I put my clothes on right before an RV full of snowbirds drove by. *lol* I tried another campout the following year (or 2 years later) but it actually rained in the desert on Christmas Eve. I decided a nice warm house would be a better option.
Another fun Christmas was when I took the California Zephyr home. I can't remember if I left from ABQ or Yuma, but I spent the night of the 21st in Oakland. The next day the taxi that I had called never showed up. Thank doG the nice motel manager drove me to the Oakland Station where I was supposed to take a bus to Emeryville. I got there with no time to spare. On the Zephyr I had my scanner with me so I could listen to the chatter of the train crew. There was a freight derailment in Nebraska and it might not be cleaned up in time. When we got to Denver, I raced across the street to the Breckenridge Brewery and bought a growler to take back on the train. I shared some with a nice old black man in my sleeper car heading to Boston for Christmas. The next morning we were stopped in McCook, NE. The chatter on the radio revealed that the derailment had not been cleaned up and that we would have to be bused around it. That would take hours. We rode the bus all the way to Lincoln. Fortunately someone had bought "The Santa Clause" so we were able to watch the dvd instead of the Nebraska countryside. In Lincoln the nice black man found a brewpub on his own and shared his growler with me once we were back on board (the westbound train that was stopped there and turned around). Amtrak had their shit together and put customer service representatives on board to help people with their travel plans. It wasn't a big deal for me since I wasn't going past Chicago, but I did ask for a partial refund since I paid for a first-class ticket and a bus ride was not first class. I got a couple of hundred bucks back in future train travel. Score. I told my drinking buddy that he should see them since he wouldn't get home until late on Christmas with his missed connection. They gave him a plane ticket from O'Hare which would get him home on Christmas Eve. So we pulled into Union Station about 12 hours late on Christmas Eve. It was that trip that made me always want to go in a sleeper on any long-distance train.
Of course 2 years ago we spent Christmas off the coast of Central America as we took our cruise through the Panama Canal. Kitty and I had taken another cruise, however, in 2006 to the Mexican Riviera which got us back to LA on Christmas Day. Of course I fursuited on that cruise. Fortunately one of our furry friends is Jewish so he was able to pick us up at the terminal and deliver us to the airport with no chance of interruption to family plans.