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  • Kristan Higgins

Hotel Noël

Updated: May 6, 2022

In case of apocalypse, head for my mom’s.

She’s got a few of these stashed in the freezer at all times.

While I recently was on Cape Cod, commuting back and forth to my marriage, McIrish was exposed to COVID. Sigh. I was supposed to come back, pick out backsplash tiles for our house reno and get surgery on my wrist. There was only one option: Sleepover with Sainted Mother and stay the heck away from my husband.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my childhood home, but having lived next door for…um…27 years or so, I’ve never needed to sleep over. My sister and her family, my mom’s out-of-state siblings and friends—they’re the overnight guests. Not me.

Not *quite* this bad.

My sister and her hubby had come down over Christmas and left one-and two-star reviews for the mattresses in Mom’s two guest rooms. One caved in, trapping the sleeper; the other arched outward, rolling the sleeper off the bed. Irked with the bad reviews, Sainted Mother finally got a new mattress—the old one was only 43 years old, so it bothered her that she had to replace it, but enough with the jokes about springs sticking into her son-in-law’s recently reconstructed spine.

The new mattress is lovely, I’m happy to report. Plus, Mom’s house is a bit drafty, we’ll say kindly. Some of the windows don’t close all the way, and she likes to be able to see her breath upstairs. When I was a youth, I complained about this for decades, but once menopause hit, I embraced my mom’s love of the Arctic. I piled blankies on the bed and made a cozy little nest, as nature instructs us to do in the winter.

The actual floor in our bathroom. Holding up great, I have to admit.

Taking a shower in my childhood bathroom, which still sports the Harvest Gold/Avocado Green of the 1970s, was a blast from the past. I fondly remembered stomach viruses and shoving matches with my siblings. I found some decades-old toothpaste tubes, hardened skincare products, and children’s Tylenol from when my now twenty-something nieces were tiny and tossed them, though if Mom knew, she may well have snatched them back. That Noxema just needs a little water, she might say.

Mom watches Jeopardy!—she is a two-time champion—and while I don’t love the show like the rest of my relatives, I’m not bad at it and can give funny, rapid-fire wrong answers to delight my mommy.

I think Jonathan has a slight lead…

We cooked spaghetti sauce and meatballs. I introduced her to the magic of Queer Eye, and she is now trying to decide if she loves Antoni or Jonathan more. Every time she comments on Antoni’s handsomeness, I remind her that he hugged me. Twice. (We met at a book party once, and he was incredibly sweet and kind and even Facetimed the Princess!).

After my surgery on Friday, I had one more night at Hotel Noël before McIrish could definitively test negative. Mommy kept fetching me glasses of water and Pepperidge Farm Coconut Cake, great slabs of it, God bless her. Though I may have become slightly diabetic during my stay, it was worth it.

I’m back with McIrish and the pets now, heading for the Cape tomorrow yet again to stay out of the way of the contractors and my husband as they try to finish our house. But I’m awfully grateful for the fun I had these past few days. I guess sometimes you just need your mama. Thanks, Mom! I had a great time!

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