Brownsville Christmas: Traditions and Salad Spinning

I was about to sum up my Christmas Day here in Brownsville, Texas, with a quote from David Sedaris’s short story, “Santaland Diaries,” in which he writes about the horrors of working as an elf at Macy’s over Christmas. But I sounded a bit unhinged.

The highlight is when Sedaris is forced by Santa to sing a Christmas song for a child (this is not in the elf contract), and to be contrary, he sings “Away in a Manger” in the style of Billie Holiday. I listen to that every year.

I miss people I know, at Christmas especially. This year our new neighbors invited us to the community Christmas meal and gift exchange, but I bowed us out because Finn will be here in a week, and the last thing I want to do is get sick and screw up his visit. We did cheer on the golf cart Christmas parade.

Finn and My Traditions

Because of this cold front, we were in the trailer for the second day in a row, which makes me especially blue. So I focused on Finn and my old traditions from when we lived together.

I listened to the album we used to blare throughout the house while he did his last homework before break. Luckily, Tracy is a fan, as well.

I went on a cold Christmas Eve Epic Hike, and Finn and his dad went on one too, and we texted each other photos.

They walked by the Potomac River; I walked by an informal soccer game.

Trailer Traditions

Then Tracy and I sat in the trailer, quietly working on separate projects, with my small decorations blinking among our cold-weather clutter.

We shoot for one present each on the road, and it has to be something the other person really needs, seeing as how space is so limited. Tracy got the earbuds he asked for; I got a wonderful surprise.

Back this summer in Jasper National Park, Jess and Jacqui asked what one item I wish I had in the trailer, and I admitted to missing my salad spinner the most. Tracy and I eat a lot of leafy greens (to make up for the fact that he doesn’t like cooked vegetables?!?) and often we’re careful with water and/or clean dish towels, so washing and drying greens is like solving a puzzle.

Tracy came through! A) He remembered my comment to friends this past summer, and b) he found one small enough to be stored in our itty bitty oven inside our itty bitty baking pans. And I’m thrilled with it. (It looks bigger in the photo than it is.)

What else did we do in our small, quiet space by ourselves Christmas Day? I may have cussed while trying to learn “Honky Tonk Woman” on the ukulele. We played a new card game. FaceTimed with friends and with family. Tracy watched a football game. I looked through photos of Christmases years ago.

We’re still in the Getting-to-Know-You stage of the RV park in Brownsville. One minute I’m being chased by dogs in the neighborhood and think there has to be a safer winter spot than this; the next I’m being given soup by the Canadian Snowbirds who are just a row down.

Adjusting to Time as a Nomad

How do you track the years when you’re always on the move?

This was our first Christmas on the road, from Naples. (I’d just come from the pool.)

Our next year’s card, taken in Vegas, sent from Mars.

This year: a montage because I couldn’t find a card I could pick up same day that suited the one photo I wanted to feature:

This sums up last year’s travels perfectly.

When I was a mom in a house with a child, I remember late on Christmas Eve, after Finn’s dad and I had arranged presents under the tree and I’d assembled the marble roller coaster, I would sit quietly in the dark with Jackie Boy, and I would breathe calmly for the first time in weeks. And I felt peace on Earth.

Today, I sat in the trailer quietly all day, and peace on Earth seemed a little oppressive. Ain’t life strange?

If you haven’t yet, go listen to Herb Alpert and to David Sedaris.

However your holidays have been going, I hope they’re as bright as my new salad spinner.

8 thoughts to “Brownsville Christmas: Traditions and Salad Spinning”

  1. I used to have a salad spinner, but it took up so much room in the fridge I was forced to part ways with it. Which is really unfortunate, because I eat a lot of salads, too.

    1. My workaround is that my new salad spinner is large enough only for salads for two (plus small ones for small children, maybe?). So I wash and spin for each meal then store the spinner in the oven. (Don’t get pulled in by those collapsible ones; they lack structural integrity needed for spinning.)

  2. Funny…I’ve been listening to a LOT of David Sedsris lately and was going to share one with you. He regularly comes here and C has met him of course. Good thoughts for 2023. MM

    1. Share, please! I like him a lot more when he reads his stuff than when I do. And of course with the meeting! Wishing you guys a great 2023 as well.

  3. I have a collapsible salad spinner, with silicon sides, but even collapsed it isn’t small.
    One would think as we grow older, Christmas traditions are more ingrained, but I find as the world, or my little piece of it, changes, I can’t create a “tradition” that lives more than a single time or two. Since you are constantly on the road, that will be your way too. For New Years Eve, Dave and I have a romantic dinner planned at our favorite Italian place in Baltimore, then back home to couch cuddle with some champagne, and hope to stay awake to see the ball drop in Times Square. Happy New Year to you and Tracy and Banjo!

    1. Somehow it’s good to hear you struggle with traditions like I do! Your NYE sounds wonderful. Please give Dave my best!

  4. That David Sedaris bit is the first thing of his I ever heard – not a bad way to get introduced!

    We’re having a strange, Covid-affected (others not us) Christmas and NY here, everything seems unsettled and weird and old traditions are falling by the wayside. Part of our usual festivities has now been put off until late Jan/early Feb and all you can do is just roll with it I guess. Maybe new traditions will establish themselves?

    1. Adding David Sedaris to your tradition is a good idea 🙂 I’m sorry about covid affecting everything, but sounds like you did have a good celebration with those healthy enough to come. I have other friends who’ve had to have rolling holidays, so maybe that’s the new way to make it work and enjoy.