I'll be home for Christmas / You can count on me / Please have snow and mistle toe / And presents under the tree / Christmas Eve will find me / Where the lovelight gleams / I'll be home for Christmas / If only in my dreams
It's such a bittersweet song, no? This Bird happily preens her feathers for holiday festivities, but at the heart of things, Christmas has always been about home, and the yearning to return to that imaginary place of romanticized simpler times. I always feel a touch of sadness during the holidays; it's easy to become emotional thinking of the ones you love, and even moreso now that I don't go back to spend it with my family (have you seen the airfare prices? oy!). Even when I was decking the halls with Mom and Dad, I'd get that twinge of nostalgia, start flipping through family albums and remember so many holidays come and gone. It's hard not to get misty-eyed, seeing old childhood memories and times spent with loved ones, trapped in the amber of a Kodak moment.
Recently, my mother mailed me our old tree skirt and multi-pocketed stocking she had sewn many moons ago when I was still leaving cookies and milk out for the sugar-addled Jolly Old Elf. Mom has always been a crafty bird at heart and has been the inspiration for being creative and keeping busy. These projects were two of her most accomplished creations. It was both comforting and a little sad to have these in our Washington home for Christmas. They always symbolized the home of family, of time spent with my parents and a childhood I've always been a little reluctant to fully step away from. To have them in my own home now, as an adult, felt like the official passing of the baton, that it was time to start making new Christmas memories and think about how to build traditions of my own. No pressure, right??
Maybe that was why I was a little slow to decorate the house this year. I even dared to consider not putting up the tree (gasp!). Somehow, by putting these items out with the things my mother sent, it would seal the deal of my truly "owning" Christmas from now on. Which is silly, as I've been decorating my home with tons of sparkly tinsel madness for years, but it did feel especially meaningful when I hung that stocking that still has my grade school photo in the frame pocket upon our own fireplace. I wrapped the tree with my mother's tree skirt, little patchwork teddy bears and Christmas trees encircling the design. These items that had always been in my mother's care had been finally passed on, a needleworked destiny fulfilled.
When I looked at the fully decorated house, I realized I had the support group of many years of memories to surround us. Ornaments I can name from childhood on through adulthood, remembering the people who gave them, all hung on the tree. Handmade decorations given to our family that my mom has been steadily mailing to me, one Priority Mailbox at a time like a mobile Hoarders service, finding new corners of our house to adorn. The holiday cards have been steadily flowing in, with printed cards giving way to picture cards of new babies and growing families. I step back to look at everything around me, and I realize, this is it. I am home. The hanging of a favorite ornament, putting up the latest Christmas card that came in the mail, even the smell of baked goods fresh from the oven -- it's all been slowly collecting and building up to a home-spun pastoral of the holiday firmly resided in the mind's eye. It took the process of time and a patchwork stocking from my past to generate all that's best of the Christmas spirit, a surrounding of familiarity and tradition. I really will be home for Christmas this year, returning to the dreams decked in ornaments of the past, with room for more memories to come.
A Jaunty Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
Jaunty Fine Print: photo by Denise Sakaki