I’ve always loved Christmas with a sort of enthusiastic insanity.
Since living abroad for the last four years, I don’t travel home as much as I’d like and when I do, attempting to see everyone can be a scheduling nightmare not to mention exhausting. However, my excitement for the holidays, believe it or not, has only increased.
Christmas now signifies the only time of year I can go home and see my ridiculously large family (30+ on just my mom’s side) all at the same time. I could go on and on about all the things I love about going home for the holidays but I’ll keep this list short and sweet, like a candy cane.
My Top 10.
Though I love this time of year more than any other, (except my birthday, of course, because who doesn’t love their birthday?!) two years ago I found another reason to celebrate the season when I met Jean, my now fiance, at a holiday party. He is, by far, the best Christmas gift I’ve ever gotten.
My current home, Okinawa, Japan, is beautiful and tropical, yes, but I miss the way the leaves change, how the wind gets colder, the days shorter, and eventually, how the crisp, clean snow covers everything, making the world bright and quiet. At least for a little while.
3) My Mom.
My first morning back she will still wake me up by sitting gently on the side of my bed, tell me how happy she is that I’m home and excitedly ask what we should do for the day. This never gets old and is still my favorite way to wake up.
4) My Dad.
Late night talks while playing pool in our basement and listening to my dad’s amazing music collection has become a family constant, setting the stage over the years for great advice, story-telling, laughing and some pretty terrible games of pool.
5) Caramel Corn.
Every year my dad makes the most delicious caramel corn from scratch. The warm, sweet smell of it wraps its way around our house as he and my mom busily fill aluminum Christmas tins with what is now referred to as “family gold” (based on several spats over some members not getting their “fair” share).
The sounds of the Ray Charles and James Brown Christmas albums fill our cookie-covered kitchen. My sister and I dance from oven to cooling rack and back again as we sing along, trading our favorite movie quotes all the while cracking ourselves up…we’re hilarious.
7) My Brother.
He is 10 years younger than me, one foot taller and a man of few words unless you get him in person and alone. Then he is both animated and talkative, interesting, insightful and inspired. I always look forward to those conversations.
A spice, in my opinion, that is greatly underused during the rest of the year, is given great creative license during the holidays. At my house it appears in just about everything including pies, hot cider, sweet potatoes and roasts.
9) The Family Christmas Party.
A gathering that looks something like this:
A fire blazing with a frozen lake out the window. Various family members in heavy sweaters stand around laughing and talking. The floor is wet with melting snow. Long tables are covered with cookies, crock pots, cheese platers, red wine, paper plates and plastic forks. Naked tree branches covered in tiny white lights twinkle through frosted windows as cameras flash, hugs are shared and memories are made.
10) Christmas Tree Mornings.
The 30 minutes before anyone else is awake are some of the best. Everything is quiet. The lights from the tree give off a soft, cozy glow as I sit inside our snow-globe of a house to absorb and reflect on these precious family moments.
Over the years, I have traded my Christmas presents in for Christmas presence.
What are your favorite Christmas presence?
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Editor: Catherine Monkman