I'll Be Home for Christmas...
...if only in my dreams.
Its almost 4:30a.m. and I lie awake with this nasty cold. I can't breathe and my eyes won't stop watering. My head is cloudy and my throat dry and scratchy from coughing. Ashley Kate sleeps next to me in her portable crib and for that I am thankful. She doesn't seem to be struggling as much as I am tonight. I prayed that she might rest through her coughs and fall so deeply asleep that she not be bothered by not feeling well. It seems as though this is what has happened. In my cloudy, sleep deprived head I keep hearing the words of this song.
Home for Christmas. It really does happen each night in my dreams. I see us there. The whole family. I have two older sisters and a younger brother(although you would never guess he was the baby of our family. His wisdom far exceeds that of his older sisters.) I have two amazing brother in laws and beautiful sister in law. Nieces and nephews? More than you could count. Parents? Both still with us although they have been divorced for more than 25 years. Home for Christmas? What does that mean to me? Let me share.
Home for Christmas usually takes place at my oldest sister's house. Aunt Kathy and "Umple" Gene's house is the most welcoming, most inviting place on earth. When you walk through the door you instantly know you are home and you are loved. Sometimes we move Christmas to Aunt " Toad's" and Uncle Deric's home. My sister Aunt "Toad" is the Grandma Mary of our family. My grandmother's name was Mary and she was the grandmother of story book legends. She could bake anything. Dinner at grandma's house was heaven. Her talent for loving her family was displayed across the table in the form Mickey Mouse Pancakes, Chicken fried steaks, Macaroni and Tomatoes, Home made yeast rolls, Coconut Pie and Banana Cake made from scratch. She never failed to have something special fixed for anyone who entered her kitchen and now that she has gone my sister Aunt "Toad" has taken on the role. We affectionately call her grandma Mary because she is the closest thing our children will ever have to knowing her. I remember sleeping underneath beautiful, heavy quilts stitched by my grandma and now my sweet babies sleep under beautiful quilts stitched by their Aunt "Toad". I tell you she is an amazing lady. On rare occasion the crew has traveled to Texas to spend the holiday in our home and on those occasions I have already confessed(scan last December's posts) to my obsession with matching packages under our tree. I have been known to re wrap all gifts that entered just so they would match in the photographs. I know its ridiculous and someday I may go to counseling over it, but I just love the "perfect" holiday photos that it results in.
Each year we prepare something. Something special. A gift for the one whom we have gathered to celebrate. One year my nephew Jerid memorized the entire Christmas story and told it to all the smaller children who had gathered around. Their eyes still full of sleep and their heads nodding as they struggled to stay awake in their matching jammies. Another year when the majority of the children were toddlers they performed a Christmas Concert on our fireplace hearth complete with screeching sounds of Silent Night and falling stockings on top of their heads as our little Allie struggled to stand still. The next year I wrote a Christmas play for them to perform and they practiced and practiced. Those little pajama clad bodies(boys complete with stocking caps that matched their pajama pants lovingly sewn by Aunt Toad) hollering, "BEHOLD, I bwriiing you good TIDLINGS!" was enough to melt the hardest of hearts that Christmas. The last year Christmas was held in our home we all wrote our "gifts" to Jesus on little pieces of paper and secretly stuffed them into His stocking that hung from the center position of our mantle. Listening to the little ones as they proudly announced their "secrets" to each other was hilarious, but I know it must have touched the Father's heart. We then gathered all over our living room and sang Christmas carols late into the night. Home for Christmas, I long for it.
That year I had tied little notes to each and every member of our family onto our tree on Christmas Eve as they all slept. I had forgotten about this little gesture until last weekend when I was climbing around our attic in the Christmas boxes. I stumbled upon on them smiled as I read the words I had written to each precious member of this group of people I get to call my family. It really was a magical Christmas.
Home for Christmas? What does it look like in my dreams? Late night wrapping sessions with the "girls" that will bring you to tears as we laugh like no others. What I wouldn't give to be there for another Christmas eve with my sisters Kathy and Toni and my sister in law Rachael. Some funny, funny things have taken place on those Christmas Eve nights. Sequence games that are played with as much passion as the World Series and end with a prize just as sweet. The right to stand and sing "We are the winners. You are the losers to those who are left to lick their wounds. You have never played sequence until you have REALLY played sequence with the likes of us. The mad scramble of the "boys" as they foolishly try and shop for us wives at the mall on Christmas Eve. You should see some of the things they present to us on Christmas morning! Silly boys! They never learn. Karaoke. Oh, the sounds that fill the room. My husband, my brother and my brother in laws passionately singing "You've lost that loving feeling" "YMCA" and a little number called "My ding a ling?" Something about swimming across turtle creek? Do you know that song? I have been known to laugh until I wet my pants. Watching my Dad dance the "slide" or the "twist" as we serenade him with songs from his past. Seeing his eyes light up as he remembers the dances of his youth. Pallets. Our babies tucked in across every inch of the floors and us mommies as we tiptoe through them stuffing their stockings with things that will make their eyes light up. Home for Christmas. It is a beautiful dream. One that I hope comes true for our family this year.
How I would love to meet the girl who has won the affection of my nephew and has been the answer to my sister's prayers. How I would love to hold and cuddle the little girl who stole my brother's heart this year. How I would love to watch the boys wrestle around the living room floor and the girls pile make up on each others little faces. How I would love to sit on the couch snuggled up next to my dad and remember how safe it felt to be there as a child. How I would love to watch "Nanny Claus" appear once again with her pack of toys for the children. Our kids LOVE the character my mom created for them many years ago. How I would love to feel the welcoming hug of my brother in law Gene as we walked through his front door or see the smile that spreads across the face of my sister who has prayed and prayed and prayed for the Christmas to come where her name sake Ashely Kathrine would be present. How I would love to see my siblings all gathered around with the families God so graciously gave to them and watch the eyes of their children light up. How I would love to listen to the Christmas story being read early Christmas morning and imagine the journey Mary and Joseph had been on. How I would to savor the sights of our family, the sounds of the chaos, and the smells from Aunt Toad's kitchen this year. How I would love to be home for Christmas.
Each time I listen to my Third Day Christmas CD I cry as they sing these lines:
I want to have Christmas. As it used to be. My brothers and sisters all gathered around. Singing Away in the Manger as we sit by the fire. I want to have Christmas like a child.
I'm crying now. Remembering the beauty that lies within the bonds of our family. They truly are a gift to me. Tonight I dream of being home for Christmas. Two weeks from today I pray that I really am. Kathy, Gene, Toni, Deric, Chuck, Rae, Dad, Candi, Mom, Dave, don't stop praying. I really, really, really want to be there this year. It would be the best gift. I agree with Blake, "Presents don't make me happy, mom. Those are only things. My family makes me happy. Please come home for Christmas." I'm trying, Blake. I really am.