Lizzie was not a celebrity, but as she woke to the gentle swaying of the ocean she understood where the cruise ship got it’s name. She looked at her sleeping husband beside her and spontaneously pecked him on his wrinkled check.
Her wet lips woke Bob with a start. He looked around the room in confusion, slowly acclimating himself to the unfamiliar surroundings. He raised his eyebrows at his wife. “What’s that for?”
“Don’t go looking for the Viagra.” Lizzie elbowed her husband in the ribs. “That was just a Merry Christmas kiss.”
Bob sat up in bed and put his hands behind his head. “Aww, yes, it’s Christmas. And instead of being woken by spoiled grandkids at 5 a.m., I was awakened by my beautiful wife at 9 a.m.”
Lizzie snuggled up to her husband and sighed contentedly. “And instead of waiting on an ungrateful family all day, we’ll be the ones being served. A Christmas cruise is your best idea yet.”
The relaxed couple dressed and then walked hand-in-hand down the deck towards one of the breakfast buffets. “What do you think the kids are doing now?” Lizzie asked.
Bob looked at his watch. “I imagine the living room is knee high in wrapping paper. Janet is probably in a corner trying to put together some tedious toy.”
“While her kids whine impatiently for her to finish so they can play.”
“And Bobby, Jr. is probably asleep in the recliner.”
“With a remote in his hand and the TV blaring.”
“Which his wife is not happy about. We’re not missing a thing, are we?”
After breakfast Bob and Lizzie strolled to the pool and reclined in lawn chairs. Bob rested his eyes while Lizzie tried to read a book. “Bob, can you believe we’re sunbathing on Christmas? I wonder what the weather is like at home?”
“Probably cold and wet,” Bob answered sleepily, without opening his eyes.
After Bob’s massage and Lizzie’s facial, the couple went to lunch in one of the dining rooms.
“Are we awful people for ditching our family at Christmas?” Lizzie asked as she sipped champagne.
Bob reached out for his wife’s hand. “We are not awful. You nearly had a nervous breakdown last year, remember?”
Lizzie silently reflected the chaos of the previous season, which had accumulated with a miserable Christmas day. She’d spent a fortune in money and time decorating her house, hosting parties and purchasing presents. On Christmas, her adult children and their kids had arrived and greedily accepted their gifts, eaten her food, and trashed her house. Then they left with hardly a thank you. She’d realized with shock and horror that her family had bought into the commercial Christmas and totally forgotten Jesus and what the day was really about. Even worse, she’d contributed to it. “Yes, I remember,” Lizzie said as she slowly stabbed a shrimp with her fork.”
“We’ll give the kids a call after dinner, okay?”
“I’d like that,” Lizzie said with a smile.
The afternoon flew by as Lizzie and Bob indulged themselves on food, shopping, a movie and a few rounds of shuffle board. Then they dressed in their finest clothes for a luxurious six course dinner.
After the lengthy meal, they’d headed back to their room to make the phone calls. It would be cheaper tomorrow when they docked for an excursion day, but the couple felt they needed to call on Christmas.
“Merry Christmas,” Bob and Lizzie both said into the receiver when their daughter answered.
“Merry Christmas Mom and Dad. Are you enjoying yourselves?”
“Yes, we’re having a wond–“ Lizzie was interrupted by the sound of screaming on the other end. “What’s that?”
“Stop screaming! I’m on the phone,” Lizzie heard Janet yell. “Sorry, mom. The kids are fighting over whose turn it is on the Wii.”
Lizzie was exhausted by the end of the conversation. The phone call to her son wasn’t much different. She hung up and sat silently next to Bob on the bed.
“What’s wrong, dear? Do you miss them?
“Honestly? Not really. I can’t believe how selfish and indulgent they are. It’s like they’ve totally forgotten the true meaning of Christmas. I thought we’d raised them better than that.”
“I know. It’s a shame. Are you ready for some dessert?”
“Sure, but let me put on some looser pants, first.”
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