At no time of the year are logistics more important than during the holiday season ~ especially Christmas time! I have a memory of one year in particular; I would guess that I was probably somewhere between 6 and 8 years old, when I was told that we would be spending Christmas at my grandmother’s houses in Little Rock and Texarkana, Arkansas. I recall that upon hearing this, all my feelings of anticipation for the things I looked forward to, like: Getting a Christmas tree; Decorating it; Shaking presents under it; and seeing what Santa brought me – were quickly replaced with what initially began as mild anxiety and rapidly grew into a state of pure out right panic!
I wouldn’t say that I was necessarily OCD or anything, but certainly I knew how things were supposed to be done and that was: Going out to get the “perfect” tree with the smell of pine filling the car on the way home; The smell of the yummy baked goodies that my mom made filling every room of our house; Decorating the tree with my sister; Picking different hard candies out of the mason jar on the coffee table; Searching daily for that elusive Christmas mouse; Wrapping presents to put under and in the tree; Touching and shaking the presents that bore my name; Watching the Christmas specials on TV; Putting our stockings up; Setting cookies out for Santa and most importantly: Running into the living room Christmas morning to see ALL the stuff Santa brought and open those Christmas presents!
All this being said, to now have someone even SUGGEST that we go somewhere else for Christmas was absolutely mind numbingly ridiculous! What were they thinking? The number of things that could go disastrously wrong as the result of a ripple effect caused by this type of change would likely mean utter chaos…and could mean, (I feared), NO SANTA!!! I mean the letter had already been sent to the North Pole for crying out loud! There was no time to alert him that we were going to be at a different location! My mind spinning with only one prevalent thought dominating all others, “THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING TO MEEeeeeee!!!!” Of course the outcome was that everything worked out just fine. We did all the same things, just in a different house and thankfully, Santa had no problem locating us.
A little over 30 years later, I would to some degree, re-live this very same emotional upheaval. We had moved to Palm Beach, Florida from Birmingham, Alabama in 2006 and were coming up on our first Christmas. I had not wanted to move to Florida and was still very home
sick. My dear husband was doing his very best to try and make a go of it, though the move was difficult for him as well. The hardest part of moving was being separated from my two wonderful step-daughters, who continued to reside in Alabama. The highlight we all anticipated was that they would be with us December 26th for an entire week. But at this point, we were still a good 3 weeks away from that date. One night we left to go select a Christmas tree from a lot at a local high school. Wearing shorts in the humid 80+ degree heat, we were sweating profusely as we searched for our “perfect tree”.
Upon arriving to our house, I remained quiet while my husband was doing his very best to be positive and make light of the fact that not one single thing about this day was very “Christmas-y”. We got the tree in and while he began setting it up, I began to cry. In fact it wasn’t a small reserved cry either…it was the kind of cry that was sloppy and bordering on hysterical. I could hear myself moaning about the heat, the fact that we could still swim and that we were not “home”. In that single moment I couldn’t imagine Christmas, much less our life, in this new place I’d come to refer to as Jurassic Park. I had pretty much reached the peak of Mt. Self Pity at this point and was thinking, “THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING TO MEEeeeeee!”
Now, my husband is a very kind and thoughtful man ~ and he suggested that we go get some ice cream, and so we did. (You know, ice cream ALWAYS makes things better!) Upon return, we walked into our house which was now FREEZING. Do you know why? Well I will tell you why: Because that sweet man had turned the air down to 50F! He then put on Christmas music, made hot chocolate, told me to go put on a good warm sweater, (which I did), and we decorated our tree together while Christmas music filled the house, and a funny thing happened… our house became home that day.
The holiday season can be tough time of the year, but certainly home can be found wherever we are…all we have to do is allow ourselves to embrace it with those around us. It is my most sincere hope that you will have a VERY Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!
© 2013 Rebecca Balko