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I looked at my little brother who was driving his favorite Matchbox® car through his potatoes and realized that as always he was oblivious to what was being said. My mother sat still, looking stunned and really, really mad.

Of course, only I had the guts to speak up.

Are you crazy? We can’t go to California. It’s almost Christmas. I have the play at school, and how will Santa know where we went? You’re just drunk again. Don’t talk stupid, Bear.”

My mother’s face turned red, and I could see the tops of her ears peeking outside of her short pixie cut looking as red as Rudolph’s famous nose. After giving me a look that could kill, she turned towards my father and waited for his reply.

Preoccupied with his potatoes, he finally pointed his fork at me and growled.

I am not drunk! Don’t call me stupid! We are going to California! There’s plenty of work there and we won’t have to battle all that damned cold winter! Just be ready, we’re leaving Friday.”

I glanced over at my mother and she just made her “He’s drunk, don’t worry about it” face that reminded me of Alfred E Neumann from Mad Magazine covers.

I’m not going to California,” I announced to them both.

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