“Rye dear, do you mind sharing the family room pullout couch with Mildred at Christmas?”
“Aunt Mildred, Mom?” Ryanne McCall tossed her pen down on her desk. Her mother had been going on about Christmas over the last twenty minutes of the phone call.
“She snores so loudly and sleeps like she’s fighting wildebeest in her dreams. Don’t you recall last year when all the cousins took you and your sisters on the Mother’s Day cruise, and Aunt Mildred flung Aunt Helen out of the bed? Not to mention we could hear her roaring snores through the walls of the ship.”
“Oh…that’s right. Mildred really should not have gone on the Mother’s Day trip anyway,” Ryanne’s mother declared, as she’d done frequently on the week-long cruise every time her sister wanted to do something that others didn’t—like climbing the Dunn River Falls or going paragliding. “Anyway,” her mother went on, “it just makes sense for you to bunk with Mildred. I mean, everyone else is coming with their spouse, or spouse and children. We’ll all have to make sacrifices. Besides, it’s not like you have a husband to…”
Ryanne tuned out the rest of what her mother said, because she already knew the words.
Making sacrifices. Ryanne knew what that meant. Aunt Mildred, her mother’s oldest sister, was single with no children; so was Ryanne. Ryanne was the oldest of her parents’ five children. All her brothers and sisters were married, and all but Ryanne and her youngest sister Gynger, who was twenty-seven and a newlywed, had kids. Most years Ryanne got to bunk with Gynger in their dad’s office, but apparently, according to her mother’s “room arrangements,” Gynger would be bunking with Lance, her new hubby.
Ryanne sighed. Yes, it made sense, but she didn’t have to like it. Now she was being pushed into the family room with her aunt, who normally slept alone because of her abominable sleeping habits.
“Can’t I just sleep in the sunroom?”
“No, no. You know the kids all like sleeping in there. Your father plugs up the fake fireplace and they think it is a camping adventure. An adult would just spoil it for them.”
Bunking with her nieces and nephews would have been fine with Ryanne. Rubbing her temple where she was developing a migraine, Ryanne threw out, “You know, Mom, I can just get a hotel room—”
“A hotel? Are you bringing someone with you?” The note of excitement in her mother’s voice couldn’t have been missed by a deaf person.
“No, no. Just thinking about space. Matter of fact, I could even get Aunt Mildred a hotel room and everyone would sleep more peacefully.”
“You will not. How would that look, with my eldest daughter staying outside of her family home?” Her mother obviously disapproved.
But that was what it was coming to, anyway. All she needed was for Aunt Mildred to get married, and Ryanne would be promptly arranged to the front porch.
“It doesn’t matter.” Ryanne barely held in her groan. Every year it was the same thing.
“Yes, it does, Ryanne. Now stop moaning about it. It will only be a week. So, when are you coming home?”
Home was now in Florida, where her parents had retired eight years ago when her father took a consulting job with the government. Even though he was retired, he still worked from his office every day from six to three. Ryanne was the only one of her family that still lived in the Charlotte area, two miles away from where they had all been raised.
Glancing around the top of her desk at all the things she would need to have completed in the next two weeks before Christmas, Ryanne shook her head. “I don’t know. I have a lot on my plate at work.”
As a product manager, there was always so much to do from Thanksgiving until March. Everything was about e-commerce and the bottom line, then developing higher retail sales for the next year.
“Work. That is all you ever talk about. You never take time off.”