No place like home for holidays

Published 9:07 am Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Driving the back roads to Montgomery last weekend, I noticed houses with yards full of cars. A few also had folks spilling out onto wide front porches where they sat in rockers and perched on railings. Children, and the occasional dog, ran around chasing each other.

“Oh, you can tell it is Christmas time,” I said to my husband. “Families are home for their holiday get together.”

Some of the homes were older and probably the “home place” now occupied by the grandparents. I imagined those houses filled with the children, their children and maybe even some great grandchildren.

As we passed, the lyrics from a Christmas song kept playing in my head.

“Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays…”

This coming Saturday my brothers, sisters, and I will gather at our home place for our Christmas celebration. Yes, it will be madness mixed with jubilation when the house is full of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

These gatherings are kind of controlled chaos because there are so many of us who pile in on special occasions. I am the oldest of six kids (nine when you count my three cousins adopted by my parents when their mother died) and when you add spouses, children, children’s spouses, etc., there is a bunch of us.

We made the decision this year to keep it simpler by opting for finger foods instead of a sit-down meal. That means we can spend the day “grazing” on all the goodies. It is also means my rule of “food is calorie-free on special occasions” will be operating.

Last week, I helped Mother get the house ready for the big day by doing a little decorating. As I stood in the quiet looking at the sparkling tree, I thought of all the shining trees that graced the living room over the years.

I could almost hear the laughter of kids as they tossed silver icicles on the branches while Christmas music played in the background. I could see Mother and Daddy watching from the couch, occasionally scolding us for sticking too many icicles in one spot.

There will not be much quiet this weekend because we have lots of catching up to do when we get together. Of course, there will be stories told of Christmas past, stories that grow bigger and funnier with the retelling each year. We will laugh like it is the first time we’ve ever heard the tale.

As I mentally made a list of the things I need to take with me to this gathering, it hit me how lucky I am to be going to my Mother’s house to celebrate with my siblings and their families. Mother, at 90, is healthy (she could probably outwork many, if not all, her children) and so much fun.

What a blessing to be with her and to be able to look into the sweet faces of the brothers and sisters with whom I shared not only so many Christmas mornings, but also the years that took us from children to adults. We will be there united in the house where we laughed, where we sometimes fussed with each other and where we cried together when we said goodbye to Daddy.

The day will be a whirlwind. It always is one. And, it will pass quickly, as it always seems to do.

When it’s over, the yard, like those yards I saw over the weekend, will empty of cars. We will depart with calls of Merry Christmas and I love you. Then quiet will descend on the house again until our next visit.

And, as I pull away and look back at the house of my childhood, I will whisper a Christmas wish that next year we will all be together again for another celebration because there really is — no place like home for the holidays…