As soon as we’re finished, Thad shuffles to the garage to grab two 150-or-so-gallon black garbage bags. We stuff all of the presents inside, double-knot the bags at the top, and drag them to the front door, confident that the next morning, not one of our kids — not even the nine-year-old — will wonder what’s inside them, much less think to ask whose dead bodies we’re transporting to Nana’s house this year.

“This is insane,” Thad says, every single year. He acts as if he’s referring to the sham of it all — to the ends that we go to to perpetuate an illusion (i.e., lying to the three people who trust us more than anyone else in the world). But I know what he’s really talking about. The absurd effort, the familial displacement, the marital stress that inevitably leads to absolutely no mistletoeing — all so I can go home for the holidays.

Vicki Glembocki, writing in Philadelphia Magazine, casts a critical eye on her yearly Christmas pilgrimage to her parents’ house in a funny, blunt reflection on how we understand “home.”

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