Celebrate Me Home

I’ve been feeling rather Grinchy about Christmas this year. Stuck in house limbo with balmy temperatures more suited to San Diego than 7000′ in Colorado with finals impending I just couldn’t muster my usual enthusiasm for Christmas music, twinkly lights, Christmas trees, presents and gift wrap.

Christmas 2011; Mullan, Idaho

And then suddenly, on Monday, I had a house deadline: an actual three day range in which I can expect to get my certificate of occupancy and move in. I briefly had a little tantrum and decided I wasn’t going to have a Christmas tree. I was going to do my best to move in and then I’d sort out Christmas later. There I sat, behind my usual pace on Christmas presents, threatening to basically skip Christmas traditions, and begrudge the entire trip to Tacoma to celebrate with my family.

Home for the holiday,
I believe I’ve missed each and every face,
Come on and play my music,
Let’s turn on every love light in the place.

Tuesday, I took a look at my list of gifts I had left to purchase. Somehow my icy feelings towards the holiday melted all at once. I started placeing orders on gifts that I’d been procrastinating on ordering, simply going for the gifts I knew I wanted to buy those people love. Somehow my list got longer as I reconsidered a couple people I wasn’t going to purchase for and I did it anyway. I know it’s in vogue to simplify and cut your list these days but that’s just not my style. 

As a kid, Christmas at my house was magical. My mom and dad went out of their way to make the holiday special for us as kids. There was a never ending string of traditions that lead us from our viewing of “It’s A Wonderful Life” late Thanksgiving night to doing a puzzle to the background of college football bowl games between Christmas and New Years. Throughout high school and college I never was ashamed of my absurd love for the joyousness of the Christmas holiday. In high school I wore giant gift bows on my head unapologetically. Once I even found a battery pack set of mini lights and wore them in my hair (OMG… with LEDs I might have to get on this again). In college, I introduced more than a few friends to the cannon of Christmas movies.

In my young adult life, however, things wavered. Even during the two Christmas I spent mobile, I decorated the van and camper. The sparkle had dimmed and I kind of started to think that I’d lost my love for the season.

It’s time I found myself
Totally surrounded in your circles
Whoa, my friends.

After making a list and checking it twice, I put it on my list for next week to go get a Christmas tree permit—damn it, a tree was going to be the first thing in the house after a bed. I’m nothing if not stubborn and I wasn’t going to let this be the first time I could have a tree and not do it.

As I’m sure all of the lovely people in my life can attest, my affect around questions about the house has been mellow and sinking. It occupies my thoughts a lot but I don’t really have control so I’ve just settled into a holding pattern. It feels disappointing to me and I just can’t decide whether I should show excitement for the people who are so excited for me or whether I should retreat to my safe non-emotional space. I always choose the latter.

Please, celebrate me home,
Give me a number
Please, celebrate me home

Tonight though, on the way home from my side hustle chocolate shop job, I decided to play some Christmas music. I went to the little amount of Christmas music on my phone. In a hurry to get home to Sprocket, I put it on shuffle and the first song was Kenny Loggins “Celebrate Me Home.”

My first solo Christmas tree, 2014

Immediately I froze. Tears welled in my eyes. Suddenly, it all seemed real. I was going to give myself the best present ever just before the holiday. I realized there could be little better than wrapping presents in the glow of Christmas lights on a tree cut at 12,000′ with the warmth of a woodstove warming me in my own home even before I get the rest of my possessions moved in the house.

Play me one more song
That I’ll always remember
And I can recall
Whenever I find myself too all alone
I can sing me home.

“Celebrate Me Home” was my dad’s favorite Christmas song. He would play it repeatedly. He would always take every opportunity to do just one extra Christmas thing but every single year, Christmas night he would remark, “Aren’t we so lucky to have so much family to spend Christmas with?”

Maybe it’s because Dad latched on to “Celebrate Me Home” while I was in college when I started traveling for the holiday, but “Celebrate Me Home” has always felt like the journey into the holiday to me and I’m just going to hold it as the anthem in my heart right now. My journey towards bringing myself home is coming to a close but it’s time to start really putting the pieces together of living my life. 

Uneasy highway
Traveling where the Western winds can fly
Somebody tried to tell me
But the men forgot to tell me why

This was the thread I’d lost somewhere. I’d been surviving for so long that there was so little space for traditions and time to relish the beauty of the holiday season that I really just wasn’t fully appreciating it. Being far from family at the holidays had changed things but I am so lucky to have a place I love living like Ridgway and a family back in Washington still carrying on the traditions that I had always loved so much.

NYE 2014: The Night Was Dark but FULL of Sparkles

The familiar melody flooded me with feeling. Who am I to be a Scrooge? In the space of three weeks, I will celebrate my new home with myself, Sprocket and a Christmas tree. I’ll celebrate Christmas with my family in Washington then return to settle into the house and celebrate New Years with Ridgway. Then, to put the icing on the cake, I get to welcome my Ridgway family to my new home.

I gotta count on being gone,
Come on home, come on daddy,
Be what you want from me,
I’m this strong, I’ll be weak

Which all brings me here to this moment, I’ve got a honey whiskey spiked peppermint tea propped in the crook of one arm that I can’t reach because Sprocket’s head is propped on the other shoulder begrudgingly letting me type my feelings out here. I dug out the charger for my speaker so I could bathe the shed in Christmas music. The tears keep coming. I know the next weeks are going to be hard, sweet, stressful, exciting, and exhausting. 

Ruth XJ; Red Mountain Pass, 2016.

I can hardly picture what living in a house will actually feel like but I can see myself adapting Clark Grizwold to fit our situation: “Sprocket, we’re kicking off our fun old-fashioned family Christmas by heading up Red Mountain in our 4-wheel drive sleigh…” Back home, I’ll wrestle the tree into the stand, laughing about how small alpine tree trunks are, and trim it with lights, my grandmother’s Shiny Brite ornaments, and tinsel.

Please, celebrate me home,
Give me a number,
Please, celebrate me home
Play me one more song,
That I’ll always remember,
I can recall,
Whenever I feel too all alone,
I can make believe I’ve never been gone
I never* know where I belong
Sing me home.

Tree cutting snowshoe; Grand Mesa, 2015

*How lucky am I to have a place to belong? ♥

Lyrics of “Celebrate Me Home” by Kenny Loggins and Bob James

The (Few) Happy Valentine’s Days

Valentine’s Day.

I honestly have had, in my 29 Valentine’s Days, two, and perhaps a third, that made me feel like this day of love really is okay.

1.

I was about eight. My family went “camping” (we were in our motorhome) at the ocean. I took my pink Minnie Mouse suitcase and packed it with “books and my stuff” but really, I squirreled away the last few heart shaped sugar cookies my mom had made (no one questioned whether I’d actually eaten them all), made Valentines for my mom, my dad, and my sister (I might have even made one for the dog…). I stole some of the Valentines decorations out of my room (yes, our rooms were always decorated for holidays) so I could decorate the motorhome on Valentines day, and not before.

My family was so delighted that I’d taken the time to make them feel special. I still remember my mom and dad just kind of tilting their heads and laughing a bit at the holiday exuberance of their oldest daughter.

2.

I was a sophomore in high school. Neither my friend or I had Valentines but we had planned an evening to watch Bridget Jones’ Diary and eat pizza. I had already established to my friends and family that I hated Valentine’s Day and that it was a stupid holiday designed to make single people feel dumb. (The prior year I’d wore a Maleficent t-shirt to my friends red-pink-and-white party.) We’d both read the books and in our own sixteen year old way, identified with the thirty-something “singleton” Bridget.

That morning, flowers had been delivered to my house from a “Bellarmine freind” (Bellarmine was my high school and, yes, it was spelled “freind.”) We spent a good chunk of our evening speculating who the “freind” was and giggling. Her mom had bought us pizza and had brought us a Papa Murphy’s heart shaped special. We gleefully tore into it with kitchen shears, ripping the heart apart into pieces we felt symbolized our young, tortured, lonely hearts.

When I got back to my house that evening, my parents had Valentines Day gifts for me. I had gotten a small potted rose, but the part that really made my day was the “necklace” of pickle balls on red curling ribbon. (My dad used to spend hours on spring and summer evenings “pitching” to me in the backyard. I was one lucky kid.)

I went to bed that Valentine’s Day feeling lucky to have a friend I could talk to about anything and a family that loved me and was able to poke fun at a holiday that had made me feel sad.

3.

It was my first Valentine’s Day with F. It was my first Valentine’s Day with a boyfriend ever.

He planned a trip for us to a friend’s beach cabin for the weekend. Weeks before Valentines Day I started shopping for a card and couldn’t find anything that I liked. I ended up making The Best Card Ever and having it printed online. It was the front page of Craigslist on the cover and the text of the personal ad that brought us together inside. I think I bought him a book I thought he’d like to go with it but I’m not really sure.

We spent the weekend hanging out in the Northwest winter damp. I didn’t feel the sense of romance I thought I’d feel but it was mostly nice. We’d get the hang of this, I thought.

We never did have an excellent Valentines Day.

 

 

This year, I’ll be out, hiking, alone for Valentines Day.