DEAR JON LETTERS
Christmas in Aruba.
by Dear Jon
December 2, 2003
What is your advice for young couples that are finding it difficult to spend the holidays with both families?
Homes for the Holidays
My advice is you spend the holidays in Aruba. According to radio commercials broadcast in Chicago by Aruba's tourism bureau, Aruba is an ideal spot for a winter vacation. It is somewhere in the Caribbean and it is 82 degrees all the time.
If Aruba happens to be where all your parents live, then what’s the problem? If only one set of your parents live on Aruba and the other set lives in, say, Toledo or Duluth or Yellowknife, then Aruba is still the place to go and if your ice-bound parents are offended, they’re stupid. If none of your parents live in Aruba, then all your parents have received equal treatment.
Besides, you said “couples” instead of “families.” I assume that you are childless. Beyond that it is apparently no longer safe to assume anything at all regarding the term “couple.” But I digress. The point is, both sets of parents are very forgiving of young couples that don’t appear for the holidays if grandchildren aren’t involved.
Granted, forgiveness takes different forms, as do the grudges that precede them. I really can’t give complete advice because I don’t know the cultural or ethnic origins of your parents. The very fact that you, though you bring no grandchildren, have turned down an invitation, may be enough, in some cultures, to have you removed from the will.
Here is a break-down on how to interpret statements from mothers in various cultures regarding the rejection of a mother’s hospitality.
Rich American WASP: “Aruba. That’s an interesting choice. Let me know if you see anyone” = “You plebian cur. No one who is anyone goes to Aruba for the holidays. I will drop casual hints about your mortification until the day I die.”
White Midwesterner: “Oh, but we were looking forward to your special peppermint brownies” = “I will forgive you by next year, but I will ask you about your trip every time I see you until the day I die.”
East Coast Jewish Reformed (you said “holidays” not “Christmas”): “Aruba? How pleasant that must be this time of year. And here I suffer with my arthritis in this climate, hoping that someone young and strong would at least help me set the table for all those people who are coming over to spend Hannukah with their family. What could a foolish old woman like me be thinking?” = “You will never hear the end of my story about the year you stood me up until the day I die.”
African American: “My my, Aruba! You must really be getting on in the world to be so high and mighty.” = “You wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for your momma, and I won’t let you forget it until the day I die.”
Third generation Roman Catholic: “Mother of God, this is the thanks I get for carrying you nine months in the womb. And did I complain that my child was running off to marry God knows who? But now it’s off to Aruba with you and your mother be dammed. It’s like you’re using a meat cleaver to cut the apron strings, what do you care that you stab me through the heart? If I died tomorrow would anyone notice?” = “Go and have a good time and take lots of pictures.”
Spiritual but Agnostic Intellectual: “Whatever makes you happy” = “You ruined my Christmas, you selfish ungrateful jerk, but only my therapist will hear about it.”
About the Author:
Dear Jon has never been to Aruba and neither he nor his wife know how to make peppermint brownies.
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