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Roger Fallihee: Christmas '86
Christmas, 1986, Oakland, CA
by Roger Fallihee

y wife (now ex-wife), daughter, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, and his wife sat around the dining room table, nobody really wanting to be there.

Platters of great food. Plenty of wine and Martinelli's. Baskets full of rolls. Butter, gravy, pecan pie, and tension. Lots of tension.

My father-in-law had tragically, and without warning, passed away several years before. I had only known him for a year, but during that time I rarely saw him and his wife together, when they weren't bickering. Not cute, funny, "Tracy/Hepburn" bickering, but "you ruined my life" bickering.

The revisionist history began almost immediately after his death.

My mother-in-law acted as if her departed husband was Alan Alda. Suddenly he was "witty, smart, handsome, funny, and a great dancer." Before he died he was a "disappointment, inattentive, wimpy, and a bad father."

She became teary-eyed at dinner, revealing how much she missed her husband, especially at Christmas. Her seething son blurted out, "I don't know why. You had a loveless marriage."

In a twisted way this was a great moment. In less than two seconds the ugly truth was out. My ex brother-in-law was emotionally tortured by his mother and he finally blew.

The in-laws did appear to have a loveless marriage. If not loveless, certainly miserable. Who knows, they may have been blissful, but if they were they hid it well from everyone.

My mother-in-law had no verbal reaction to her son's ill-timed remark. She sat in silence. We all did. Uncomfortable glances between my wife and me.

I finally broke the silence with, "How 'bout them 49'ers?"

More silence. More mashed potatoes. One more glass of wine. Another layer of scar tissue. Another dysfunctional family Christmas.


Let Roger know what you think about his traveling adventure.

* * * * *

As you may (or may not!) know from reading my stuff on TBoy, I'm a WW2 aficionado, and several years ago on one of my many trips to Normandy, I stopped by Monet's home. I was transfixed from the second I walked into his garden, and felt as if I was part of one of his paintings. Your marvelous story captures the essence and magic of an equally marvleous and captivating house and garden, and it made me feel as if I were back there myslef. The hallmarks of any really great travel journalist is to be able to transport the reader to whatever he or she is reading, and make them feel as if THEY are seeing and doing what you, as the travel journalist, are describing. YOU have that talent in spades, and let me give you a British Hi Five and Super Bravo for a super story on this mesmerizing French destination. I hope it encourages many TBoy readers to go there. Again, congratulations!

-- John, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

Loved this article! You have such a strong, true voice -- reading you is like having a chat with you -- always a pleasure!

-- Jamie, Edmonds, WA



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