Susan and her husband, Patrick, needed to work some things out. Relationships always have rough patches, and being married for over twenty years means many rough patches. Thankfully, they were both committed to remaking their relationship. It's hard to go from full-time parenting to part-time parenting to barely seeing your child as they're now an “adult,” as she keeps reminding you, like you could have somehow forgotten and thought your daughter was only two instead of twenty-one. Add to that a feeling of stagnation in her job and her husband’s company starting layoffs and you have a perfect powder keg for marital strife.
After weeks of bickering and a couple explosive fights, they realized they could not handle a Christmas at her parents’ house. They needed to get away from everything and talk without anyone else around. They needed to relax. They needed to not “do” the holidays this year. So they made a choice.
After some Googling, fare comparisons, and some slight disagreement, they finally made the plan: Jamaica, where neither had ever been, and where they finally settled on for their shared love of rum (and some mistake airfares they could not pass up).
Breaking the news to the family was the next step, and in many ways, that was the worst part. Chelsea was distraught at the thought of not having her parents with her on Christmas at first, then realized it would give her an excuse to rope Kevin into being with her, so she came around. Marshall, her easygoing father, merely requested that they bring him some rum so he could put it in his eggnog. Constance, however, was another story. Susan was the first child, and she always suspected Constance had secretly wanted a son first, which was basically confirmed when her brother was born. Constance loved her family more out of a sense of duty than anything else, which Susan both loathed and respected. She knew her mother loved her, and she did love her mother, but the sense of duty Constance had instilled in Susan had made her feel guilty for abandoning tradition. But she knew she had to go. Her marriage needed this, no matter how many passive-aggressive remarks her mother decided to hurl at her. (“Are you sure there's even anything to save, dear?”)
Cut to: Christmas Day in Jamaica. They’d called Chelsea in the morning, of course, but had spent the rest of the day on the beach, relaxing. No snow, no presents, nothing remotely Christmas-like, except for lights strung on a few palm trees throughout their resort. She could definitely get used to a tropical Christmas. Or, hell, any tropical vacation. Or just vacation at all.
She sat up in her lounge chair, and looked over at Patrick, who was reading a book, a visor shading his face. “I just realized: this is the first time we have ever vacationed without Chelsea. And the last time we went on vacation with her, she was thirteen.”
Patrick looked over at her; she could see the gears in his mind turning. “Holy shit. You’re right! I think we need to start doing this regularly.” He closed his book. “We have not had one single fight since we got here, which has to be some kind of record for us.”
She nodded. “I know! We really needed this. We do need to find some time to talk, but for now, I think relaxing is in order.”
A waiter approached with two mugs on his serving tray. He set them down on the table next to Susan’s lounge chair. She looked at the waiter, confused, but before she could do anything Patrick had thanked and tipped the waiter. Picking up a mug, she sniffed it gently.
“No way. NO. WAY. Did you ask the bartender to make hot buttered rum for us?!”
He laughed. “I did. It's our Christmas tradition, and we are in the land of rum, so why not?”
She laughed too, so hard she almost spilled her mug. She handed the other mug to Patrick; they did a gentle cheers, and took a sip. She winced. “Oh, that's strong! And I never thought of this as a beach drink, but you know what? It's absolutely perfect.”
They could talk about things tomorrow. For now, they were content with spending their Christmas away from their family, relaxing on the beach with mugs of delicious hot buttered rum.
Scent notes: Hot buttered rum, bright oranges, spices