Forget the naughty-or-nice list; this one’s about survival 2

Unless you live in a cave, you’ve probably noticed (starting about Halloween) that Christmas is coming. For lots of us, that means travel and spending time with family. And, love them as we do, getting along with people we see only once a year isn’t always easy (and believe me, it’s not any easier for them).


Road to Christmas paved with stress, frustration and Rice Krispy Treats 3

Like many people, I traveled over the holidays. And while getting to see family and friends is great, getting to where they are can be a trial.

Every year, we drive to Arkansas to see my wife’s family, and to Oklahoma to see mine. We don’t fly – mainly because I’m a cheap bastard. And the three worst things about driving are owning a tiny car, contending with other motorists who drive worse than I, and road food.

Driving would be OK if we had a grown-up car and not what is basically a go-kart with an mp3 player. Here’s how small our car is: for a couple of weeks after we bought it, we’d park it on the street. And every morning I’d get in and find it was full of bills and junk mail. Turns out the postman had mistaken our new car for the mailbox.

And the traffic! Our route takes us up Interstate 35. Under the best conditions, I-35 is a parking lot. Around Christmas, it’s a parking lot full of cranky, harried, and sleep-deprived people who would rather be just about anywhere else besides stuck in traffic. In other words, people just like me.

Crowded highways are one thing, and DWS (driving while stupid) only makes things worse. For instance, I was driving through Dallas and I noticed that the woman in the lane next to me was texting. As you know, texting while driving is extremely dangerous. I rolled down my window to chastise her and in doing so I spilled my Scrabble tiles all over the floor. And I was just about to nail a triple-word score with “irresponsibility.”

Another drawback to road trips is the food issue. My wife and I are ostensibly vegetarians during the rest of the year. But since most road food joints are heavy on the processed animal products and light on the tofu, being a non-carnivore on the road is not easy. And contrary to what you might think, Red Bull and Rice Krispy Treats do not make a balanced meal. In fact, in sufficient quantities they will induce visions of sugarplums. Great if you’re going to a Phish concert; not so great when visiting the fams.

Road food is also terrible if you’re trying to keep your weight under control. For 51 weeks of the year I try to eat well, plus I work out like a fiend. But I come home after a week away and I’m a lot less Daniel Craig and a lot more Jenny Craig.

The next time I go home for the holidays, instead of driving maybe I should jog.