I don’t know about you, but I have to agree with The Carpenters because I just LOVE coming home for the holidays. It should be said, though, that I love the holidays in general. I am “That Girl” who starts celebrating the week before Thanksgiving by compiling my Christmas music playlist and baking tree-shaped sugar cookies. I load up my DVR with every cheesy Christmas movie ABC Family airs (Home Alone 1 and 2, Elf, Love Actually…) and am usually the first in line at Starbucks for the first gingerbread latte of the season in that glorious red cup.
So yes, let’s be clear, I love Christmas time.
I realize not everyone feels that way. Some people want to avoid the holiday and family reunions all together (a` la Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn in Four Christmases). There’s the dread of traffic, spending money on so many gifts, airfare, having to sleep in cramped quarters…I get it. But I love it anyway. Coming home for the holidays is a special thing to me, and a lot of it has to do with my ever-fluid definition of “home.”
Growing up a Navy Brat, home wasn’t ever in the same place for more than two years at a time. I’ve spent Christmases around the world – everywhere from California to Japan. I used to envy kids who lived in the same house they grew up in all their lives. They had the same home to come back to every holiday – what a concept! Over the years, however, I’ve come to realize how fortunate my family and I are to be able to spend Christmas in so many great places. We’ve had warm and sunny Christmases in San Diego and Jacksonville, a white Christmas in Chicago and a special Christmas Eve Mass by the Pope at The Vatican in Rome to name a few.
Best of all, we’ve always been lucky to spend the holidays together.
Isn’t that what matters in the end – everyone being together? Though we never came back to the same house on the same street every single year, we always came together to celebrate. Togetherness and tradition, that’s what has always made coming home for the holidays always feel like “home” for me. It never mattered where we lived, I could always count on making homemade peppermint bark with my mom and sister, a honey baked ham for Christmas dinner (and fried up leftovers the day after) and Kenny Rogers’ “Christmas in America” playing in the background while opening gifts (even though the CD is over 20 years old!). Call me cheesy, but I’ve come to appreciate the cliché that home truly is where the heart is.
I realize all the travel and expenses make things stressful during this time of year, but if we can look forward to the togetherness and traditions that make our holidays special with our families, it puts things in perspective. Two years ago, my sister was deployed with the Navy overseas during Christmas. It was the first time our entire family wasn’t together for Christmas Eve Mass. It was the first time she wasn’t in the kitchen making peppermint bark with my mom and I. It was the first time I didn’t have to fight with her for a good spot by the Christmas tree for gift opening time. What a weird and sad year that was. It’s also a good reminder to us about how lucky we are when we do have the chance to be with the ones we love. Let’s not forget about the brave men and women who are deployed overseas and serving our country while we are safe and warm by our fireplaces with our mugs of hot chocolate and glasses of eggnog. I know they’d give anything to be home this time of year; let’s remind ourselves what a gift they are giving us while they are away from their own families.
This year, as you battle the dreaded lines at the airport, sit through hours of traffic on the freeway and make your way through crowded shopping malls, make sure to give a little thanks for the simple blessing in having a reason for such a crazy season and a place to always come home for the holidays. May you all have a wonderful holiday full of togetherness and tradition this year sisters!
This post was written by Janah Valenzuela. Contact Janah at email@example.com
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