The Arrival of All That Holiday Spending

Last night, I finally decided to buy my tickets to Los Angeles to visit my family for Christmas, and it was at that moment when I clicked the purchase button that the numbers began to add up: The flight that would cost a little more than $500 (a pretty good deal, considering), the additional $500 I would spend on a car rental, the money I would spend on gifts, the money I would spend while seeing old friends, the money that seemingly vanishes mysteriously each year around the holidays when you’re in a city that’s not your own. It’s literally thousands of dollars. Or at least two.

The sum isn’t actually a surprise — I’ve kept these numbers in my head all year long, and there is money already earmarked for all of this — but it’s still a significant amount of money considering that I do this mainly to bring some holiday cheer to my family. I don’t feel very sentimental about Christmas, and if I had my way, I would just stay in New York during that busy, expensive season and visit for a week in late January when things are calmer and prices have dropped.

I’ve little to kick up a fuss about, all things considered; I’m at a point in my life that feels much more stable than a decade ago, when I was at the start of my career and it was really important for me to find a way to fly out on Dec. 16 or 17 because the cost of flights shot up on the 18th and 19th. I mean, there were some really intense calculations happening back then.

This is just another thing I do for my folks, I suppose — another act of filial piety. They can’t afford to visit me, but I can afford to visit them, and so I do. And I do it during a time of year when plenty of other children are going through the same thing I am, and hoping they have enough money earmarked to do it.

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