“The children were nestled, all snug in their beds, while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads…”
My visions were not of sugarplums, but of meaningful, plummy words which would capture that special feeling: the best and deepest of Christmas spirit.
It was not meant to be. Each evening that I set aside time to write this post found me overtired, overwrought, or just plain over it for the day. So there I would sit, staring blankly at a blank screen. Fingers poised above the keyboard but not moving.
My few moments of inspiration happened elsewhere, far from the computer. At one a.m. on a mist shrouded highway with two hours of driving yet to do. In the coffee kiosk at work, an unexpected gift from a customer in my hands. During a play, as the actors beautifully portrayed the Christmas Eve truce of World War I.
And as so often happens, the holiday was upon me before I realized it. Time to load my things in the car and head out of town, knowing I hadn’t accomplished everything I had planned but hoping I had done enough to at least minimally express seasonal spirit. No idea how, or even whether, a Christmas post would get written.
As children, we just accepted that we would spend Christmas with family – including some extended family we might not be overjoyed to see. Still, the choice wasn’t ours. Now, I would choose to spend the holiday with my family, but that is the one choice not available to me due to time and finances. Instead, this year I had arranged for three nights away, each night in a different home. As I drove through the mist, fog and occasional snow I felt torn. Mike, who has become family to me, was staying in Minneapolis and part of me was drawn to thoughts of a quiet day at home punctuated by some time with him. Part of me was just sad that I wasn’t in New Mexico with my parents, siblings, nieces and nephews. And part of my heart was singing along with the Christmas radio station, anticipating hugs and laughter with loved ones in Iowa.
My car felt like a space capsule, hurtling through unknown reaches, my internal ambivalence perfectly cocooned in the weather that shrouded familiar landmarks and softened the edges of every structure and tree. As I arrived at my first destination, early darkness and low-lying mist caused me to almost miss the turn to Molly’s house. Grateful for the lights lining her long driveway, I pulled up to the house and parked.
I rang the bell, and took a deep breath, preparing myself to project a happy face. The front door flew open and I was enveloped in a strong hug, followed immediately by a small human hurtling at me from two feet away and yelling my name in her sweet voice. Any lingering ambivalence on my part evaporated. In the space of a nanosecond I had gone from projecting happy to being happy.
My plan to stay in three different homes over three days, to see as many people as possible in that small span of time, has worked more beautifully than I could have anticipated. There have been hugs, the happy squeals of tiny tots, much laughter and a few tears shared between friends.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “Home is where the heart is”. What I’ve been learning is that we carry our hearts with us – wherever I go, for good or ill, my heart goes too. It seems more apropos to say that “Home is where we have an open heart”. Whether with family or friends, if our hearts are open to love we are home.
So, from the very bottom of my very full and open heart, I wish you love this Christmas. And I pray that, like me, wherever you are you have found home.