Friday, December 16, 2016

"Home" for the "Holidays"

Greetings and Salutations, Dear Readers!  

How’s everybody doing today? Getting ready for Christmas? What’s on your agenda? Shopping? Wrapping? Writing out cards? Baking? Whatever it is, I thank you for taking a minute out of your holiday busyness to read this blog post. It’s a topic that’s been poking and prodding away at my mind, and I decided that today was the day to ask a few of life’s toughest questions. 

First, allow me to share one of my favorite Christmas songs. The lyrics go: “Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays, cuz no matter how far away you roam, if you want to be happy in a million ways, for the holidays you can’t beat home sweet home…” 

Now my questions… bear with me because I share some real thoughts in just a minute! 

  1. What “holidays” are we talking about exactly? Thanksgiving? Christmas? New Years? This span of time can be anywhere from five to six weeks in duration, which is a long time to be anywhere, especially in today’s world of so little vacation time. Ain’t nobody I know goin’ home for all those holidays! Seriously!

  1. Which “home” are we talking about here? The place where we grew up? Our parents’ home? The home where we raised our own children? Our childrens’ homes? Oh my goodness! I haven’t been in my parents’ home for a holiday in over 25 years. They’ve been in mine, and we’ve all together been in others’ homes (and even restaurants!), but not the home where I physically grew up! 

  1. So does this mean that if you are “roaming” at the holidays, (a cruise to the Bahamas, a ski vacation in Colorado, visiting out-of-town friends or family) then you cannot possibly be “happy in a million ways” because you’re not at “home”? 

  1. In which “home” must we be to be “happy in a million ways?” cuz that’s a whoooole lot of happiness, by the way, and trying to reach that degree of joy may even be (if we’re being completely truthful and candid) a little bit stressful at times. 
I know, you’re probably wondering Why can’t Katie just listen to a nice Christmas song and enjoy it, rather than dissecting it to pieces in this way? But the good news is I think I have come to some conclusions and want to share some helpful answers with you all. 

A while back, I shared in a holiday blog post, (here’s the link: that while we were growing up, my father had been a fireman. His job required working holidays, and flexibility became part of our family’s everyday life. I try to remember those same principles today as I think about my own expanding family and their present-day living arrangements.  

We were very blessed last year to spend Thanksgiving at Tony and Lesleigh’s home in Nashville. (Here’s the link to the story: ). This year we were very excited to be invited to our daughter Megan’s, and son-in-law Joe’s, home for Thanksgiving. Tony and Lesleigh drove to Tulsa from their home, and Todd and I drove from Waukesha Wis, and we were able to spend a nice long weekend together – all seven of us.  

On Thanksgiving morning, we all woke up in the same house, drank coffee and ate cinnamon rolls, played with Jakey, watched as the kids created (and we all ultimately ate) a beautiful holiday meal. We drank bloody Marys (with beer chasers) and drank old fashioneds (a number of varieties). We played some great (and one absolutely ridiculous) game that I’ll never ever forget. And when we went to bed in the wee hours of Friday morning, it was truly another Thanksgiving for the recordbooks.
The next morning, we all woke up in the same house, drank coffee and ate breakfast, played with Jakey and watched “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” (more on that another time). As Jake went in for his nap, all six of us put up and decorated Joe and Megan’s Christmas tree, and readied ourselves for our family celebration. All of us had agreed to shop early and bring our Christmas gifts to Oklahoma, so that we could all be in the same room this year to celebrate.  

When Jake woke up, his eyes lit up, just like the poets say that kids’ eyes light up, when he saw the tree lights and ornaments. It was just precious. He did tug on an ornament or two, but he stopped pretty quickly. 

Rather than all of us sharing in a SKYPE session on Christmas Eve or Day, we were able to sit in a physical circle and feel the excitement and energy of a family at Christmas time. As we listened to holiday tunes, we smiled, laughed, explained our gift choices, and showed each other how our various gift items worked. After a Black Friday trip to Lowe’s, we ended the day with carry-out pizza and the cartoon version of “The Grinch.”

On Saturday Todd, Joe and Megan worked on some home lighting projects together. After Jake’s nap we all headed over to the local “Bass Pro Shop” where Santa Claus was scheduled to be on hand. The deal was that each group would receive one free photo with him. Not bad for a group of seven! We ate an early dinner at a local restaurant, and then the kids took us to a HUGE lighting display. A large local church decorated their grounds and a nearby park with over two million lights. The event was free, and people parked their cars and walked all around. Piped-in carols played as 2,000,000 lights twinkled. It really was spectacular!  

So getting back to my initial thoughts and questions… If there’s no place like home for the holidays, and you travel 800 miles and decide to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas in the span of a couple days, whose “home” on which “holiday” are we talking about?  

I think that what I’m seeing more and more clearly, especially now that I’m older and I have children who live far away, is that “Home truly is where the heart is.” Does that sound cheesy? Perhaps. It’s true for me, nonetheless. The “Holidays” are whenever we can make them happen. “Home” can be anywhere, far or wide because ultimately, “Home” is who you’re with – the people we love and cherish the most.   

…and when all of that beautiful energy miraculously comes together, well, this mom/grandma really is “happy in a million ways cuz for the holidays you can’t beat home sweet home.” ...
(Wherever that is!)  

Merry Christmas to you, Happy New Year all year through, Happy Holidays, to you!!!  

Katie Kolberg Memmel is the author of “Five Fingers, Ten Toes – A Mother’s Story of Raising a Child Born with a Limb Difference” and “Silly Stories and Sentimental Stuff.” Both books are available thru Amazon as electronic and paperback versions.