Speaking of covert operations. I think parents must go through some secret training when we leave home that makes them specialists in creating guilt surrounding the holiday season. The courses they take must focus on the most efficient modes of manipulation when trying to get the family all together ("just like it used to be") for the holidays. All of this translates to the following conversation with your significant other: "We have to drive how far? And leave when? And then try to make it where? For what? And why?" Last Christmas season, on the 23rd of December, my husband and I drove from Memphis to the Louisiana-Arkansas border, (where his family lives), visited all of his extended family and managed to get roaring drunk in about 24 hours. Then, risking our lives, we drove through Ice Storm 2000 to central Arkansas, so we could be at my family's house when the grandfather clock chimed noon. We then spent the next four days encased in one half-inch of ice without electricity, playing scrabble and sneaking shots of Jack Daniels in my old bedroom. We then drove back to his family's place (because we had to spend equal amounts of time at each). Upon arrival at our own, undecorated, spiritless home, we looked at each other with complete amazement. We could not believe we had made it through the holidays without arguing. Then we proceeded to get into a raging fight about how we were going to spend the holidays next year. We all dream of that blessed day (much like retirement) when we will have the right to have our own holiday celebrations, and try out our own manipulative approaches. And before now, all we could do was listen to our cries of agony echo back to us from the walls of No-body-Cares. But the Memphis Flyer cares. This is your chance to bitch and moan about the holidays, in advance. Write to us and tell us your crazy commuting stories. We want quotes from the in-laws. We want the photos of you, eyes blood-shot, pointing at the camera with a bottle of tequila. We want the stories that make our lives look like a glazed ham. Email all stories or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail them to 460 Tennessee Street, Suite 200, Memphis, TN 38103 by November 1.