Home for the Holidays

I love Christmas.  I have no idea how I became a complete and utter romantic about the season beginning the day after Thanksgiving through the end of the year. My hometown was snow-covered and decorated like something out of a movie set. Every year, the village decorates the lamp posts running up and down the main streets with wreaths, and white lights decorate all of the trees in public spaces. It really was a magical place to grow up, and I guess each year since I have moved away, I cannot help but to idolize this vision of Christmas. I moved away from Kohler to attend college in 1996, and for the next five years, I bounced back and forth, but always returned for the holidays. In 2002 I moved away for good. There is still a pull every year to go home, see the lights, walk along silent snow-covered streets, live the Christmas-movie fantasy.

I think of Christmases past, as one is wont to do. I remember the first year I couldn't afford to fly back to Wisconsin, and how I tried to act sophisticated but I was secretly heartbroken. The year I came home from spending a semester at American University (in 1999) and all I wanted were tall boots to wear with this very cool East-Coast outfit, and my mom let me open them early (by the way, I wasn't 8, I was over 21) and wear the new boots to mass. The year Luke and I decided to stay in DC together, and because I was blue about staying, he found a store with a 3-foot fake tree in the window, and convinced the owners to sell him the tree on Christmas Eve to cheer me up - the terrible angel from that tree is currently on top of this year's tree. I never had the heart to get rid or replace her. Orphan Christmas, when we invite all our friends who aren't traveling over for a fancy meal.  A tour of the White House at Christmas. Holiday work parties at various bars and labor unions. My annual boozy baking "cookies and cocktails" party - going on year 6! Christmas date dinner at Komi. So many memories, and these are just as an adult. I'm sure if I dug back into the younger years I would find more...like the year I was sick, and spent the entire day in bed, but then got to go with my dad to a Blackhawks game, forever solidifying my hockey loyalty to Chicago.

This year I have my own home to decorate. Sure, I have had an apartment that I adored for the past 6 years, and random places before then. I promise, I mostly bought this house for the fireplace and the future memories we would make during the holidays.  Currently I have stockings hung - one for each of us, including my doggie. I've already made the family venture to a farm in Maryland to find a Christmas tree.  I think it's a little on the small side, but I guess we didn't realize that a house has more height than our apartment. This year feels new and special. We have a baby, who won't actually appreciate Christmas just yet, but that hasn't stopped me from ordering him Christmas pajamas and socks (little known fact about me: I only own holiday or workout socks. My mother, also a Christmas junkie, has been sending them to me for years).  I can't resist buying new Christmas albums - my collection is amazing, and I began watching specific movies saved for this month the day after Thanksgiving. Every collection needs: Beautiful Girls, Elf, Love Actually, The Holiday, The Family Stone, and It's a Wonderful Life. I've added in Fred Claus and Four Christmases for a little bit of variety.

I wish I could pinpoint what exactly it is about Christmas that I love so much. It's not Santa, or gifts, or even the birth of Jesus, specifically, although I love all of these things. I love Christmas Mass, I love department stores decorated, I love lights on houses and people carrying wrapped packages. I love that everyone is a little bit nicer, and that everyone is a little bit more giving. I love the romance of the season. I love the feeling of family and nostalgia, and I really cannot get enough of Christmas music.  That might be my favorite part.

Here's to the best season! Pour yourself a glass of wine, get cozy with It's a Wonderful Life, and enjoy. Now if it would just snow in Mid-Atlantic hometown...