Home may be where the heart is, but Christmas is still where you grew up. At least it feels that way to me. Perhaps because it’s just a time of year that’s full of rich, sensorial experiences that mark us. The anticipation of catching a glimpse of Santa that keeps little kids waking up every hour on Christmas morning. All those good smells and tastes of Christmas goodies. The tree filled with ornaments you made in third grade and the metallic balls that somehow survived all these years.
But this year will be another one away from home, my third if memory serves. The first Christmas here I cried quite a lot and frankly just wanted the holiday season to finish quickly. The second time my husband’s grandmother had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer, so the season understandably wasn’t the same. Now for Christmas 2008 we’ve got our new addition to the family and we need to create our own little memories. Baby’s a bit too little to drag on a plane anyway (though I know other moms have done it), and I suppose we do need a quiet Christmas this year. (See our eclectic Christmas tree with huge Ikea balls.)
Even if I’m not going back this year, my mind retraces the memories of my past trips back to the US for Christmas since I’ve been in France. Arriving at that first US airport, usually Detroit or Philadelphia and the euphoria of hearing English all around me. Browsing the celebrity mags and realizing I don’t recognize half of the starlets. Indulging in a Taco Bell soft shell taco as we wait four hours for our connecting flight. Finally seeing the family as we arrive in my hometown late at night. The house lit up with those delicate white lights. Trips to the CVS drug store and Wal-Mart for stocking stuffers, listening to all my shows in English and realizing the French voices are way off! Driving around the winter landscapes of Alabama listening to cool tunes in my sister’s car…
I’ll just have to keep those memories nice and warm for the next time. And wherever you all are for Christmas, I hope you have a lovely one.