Christmas at home

I have been reading recently about Secret Santa's that are showing up at retail stores all over the country and granting holiday wishes to complete strangers they will never meet. They simply walk into a Walmart or Kmart and tell the lay-away department that they want to pay off all the past due or soon to be past due accounts that the store has. One person in Cleveland paid off 23 accounts to the tune of almost nine thousand dollars, and the same thing is being repeated coast to coast. These random acts of kindness embody the Christmas spirit and bring life to Santa Claus for those who benefit from the outpouring of generosity.

There is something about Christmas this year that is so special. While I hadn't been able to put my finger on why until now, the last few weeks have had a different feel than I have grown accustomed to recently. In recent years I have had somewhat of a bah-humbug  mentality, dreading going shopping, scanning past all the Christmas music on the radio, and walking past every red kettle I came across without so dropping so much as a dime into them. Sure I put on a happy face and let everyone think I was enjoying myself, but inside I was only waiting for the holiday to be over. 3 years ago, my mom was sick during Christmas. It was bittersweet and hard to be jolly knowing we were spending our last days with her. 2 years ago I was in the midst of a divorce battle and was selfishly focusing on myself and trying to find a soft place to land than embracing the Christmas spirit. Last year, I was re-living the last days of my mom's life on this blog and dreading a Christmas Eve that would see me go to bed alone, in my apartment, with no kids to play Santa to that night. But this year, in a year where once again, everything changed, I began looking forward to this holiday more than any I can ever remember right around Thanksgiving. And now, less than a week away, I have so much to be excited about and even more to be thankful for.

When I was younger, my Mom and Dad always made sure our house felt like a home. And there was no better example than around the holiday season. Mom was what you would call a Christmas-a-holic, with more decorations than you could find at the North Pole. From the lighted carousel to the skating rink, from the music boxes to the villages, every surface, wall space, and extra inch of the house had something Christmas in it. My siblings and I would always wonder what tacky decoration was coming next, and if anything could beat the Nutcracker's playing Bells decoration that knew 32, yes 32, different Christmas carols. After she was gone, my Dad let me have quite a few of her decorations to set up in my house to bring a little of her to every Christmas. I set them up in my apartment last year, but it wasn't the same.

When I was married, we lived several places over the course of 15 years. Yet as many houses as we had, none of them felt like home to me. None of them had that comfy cozy feeling you can only get when you are home. I never understood that, and even after the divorce, my house nor apartment got any closer to that feeling that my Mom and Dad's always did.

This year, when Tiffany and I began decorating for the season, I began to realize that this was really home. Not because of where we live, though our little condo is pretty cool. No, it is more about who is here. As we unpacked the each piece, the memories of my Mom came flooding in. I told her stories about when she got this village or that music box as we carefully set everything in it's place. And everything had a place. It all flowed together with the rest of the house, from Mom's quilt on the wall to the antique window where my pocket watch hangs, everything is right where it should be. It was almost as if Mom was overseeing the decorating herself. And then it dawned on me.

The reason why I had never felt like home before is because I wasn't home. Mom and Dad's house had that feeling because of the love they shared for each other, and for each of us. And this home has that same type of cozy feeling because of the love Tiffany and I share, and have for the boys. It's funny, I have a friend who always says her girls are "coming home" when they are coming to stay with her for the weekend or week. It was something I didn't quite understand because in my view, my boys were visiting my house and would go home to their mom's. But I see it differently now. In this home that she and I have made together, I feel like the boys are coming home whenever I get to spend time with them.

I think my excitement for this Christmas can be attributed to the same thing. Without even thinking about it, I turn on the Christmas music instead of scanning over it. Tiffany and I actually did a little shopping on Black Friday and finished up this week. And I am excited to see their faces when they wake up here Christmas morning and see what was left especially for them.

It's a good feeling, this home thing. It is what has me singing Baby it's cold outside rather than saying Bah-humbug. And I owe it to her, well maybe her and Mom. While we may not be able to pay off a stranger's lay-away at the Walmart, together we will give these three boys a Christmas they will always remember.

Happy Holidays everyone................

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