Yesterday, I posted half of a collaboration with Kendra Thornton, about her family’s traditions at Christmastime. She spoke of how much she loved being at her own home, compared to all the other places she’s travelled for the holidays. I’m much the same–I love staying at home. Except that I love it because to me, home isn’t just one place.
Christmas in my household is synonymous with family. It starts on Christmas Eve, when family on my mom’s and dad’s side packs into my house for lots of hearty food and a late-night party. Then, on Christmas Day, it’s a whirlwind of visits as we spend time with the family on my dad’s side, then on my mom’s, exchanging gifts all around. It’s a time of noise, lights, presents, and laughter. That’s always been the meaning of Christmas for me. Warmth and family, all bundled into one happy package.
I have a few special places in my life where I feel at home, one of them being my own house, and two others being my grandparents’ houses. It makes sense. I have childhood memories in those houses and they’re places I’ve visited often enough to feel comfortable.
So at Christmas time, even though I’m travelling from house to house, it never feels like I leave home. I’m with people I love in places that fill me with solace. I couldn’t imagine spending Christmas any other way.
But within the colour and the noise, the family and the food, I find my own secret space of depth and character, where tales unravel and worlds unwind.
I have one special memory, I think of last year’s Christmas, or perhaps the year before, of sitting in my favourite spot on the couch, my legs tucked up and a pen in my hand and a notebook nearby. The light of the lamps and the Christmas tree were warm and yellow, like firelight, and the conversation all around me was friendly, pleasant, and full of laughter. And my mind was soaring, delving, and exploring grand places, with the limitless spirit it only has at Christmastime.
When I think of Christmas, I never think of brightness. I think of darkness and rich shadows, illumination coming only from dim sources, like the lights of a Christmas tree or a fireplace. I think of it as the last source of warmth and light before winter closes in with its gloom and chill. It’s that sense of impending shivers that makes my mind come alive in the last echoes of Christmas.
I begin to dream, to take the misery and despair of the long harshness of winter and make it into something I can view as beautiful. That icy blast of wind that hits me right in the face is like the relentless mountain gale that my desert elf character had to combat as he crossed the mountains to see the world. And the crisp bite of the night air on my face is the same crisp bite my knight character would feel walking home from the night patrol. It’s like I’m a part of their lives, of their stories, and that hope and delight is enough to keep me optimistic. Haha, I hate January. I can use all the optimism I can get.
I enjoy our Christmastime traditions, of gathering the family all together in places of warmth and joy, because it gives me that hopeful and emboldening spirit of imagination and adventure. I travel from house to house, never leaving home, but as I do so, I’m also stepping foot in a hundred other places, in other worlds full of magic and heroes. For an adventurer like me, that’s the best Christmas tradition I could imagine.
Where is home to you?
May your Christmastime be bright and warm, and offer comfort and adventure, wherever you call home.