I wanted to go to college in Southern California more than anything. I had lived most of my youth in a small rocky mountain of Colorado. I dreamt of warm breezes, swaying palm trees and free pizza delivery (not that I ever had pizza delivered once I lived there). I just liked having the option.
I think one of the biggest mistakes I made when preparing to go to college was deciding to get my own dorm room and not share one. It was a small cement cell that barely fit a twin-sized bed. I had always loved my solitude. Only, when you go to a huge college where you don’t know another soul, it might not be the best way to integrate yourself into dorm life. I knew how to hide well.
My parents moved back East the summer I started college, now they were 3000 miles away. My mom was the best friend I took for granted. She was the friend I could always count on to share a warm homemade meal while lying in bed and watching crap movies on television.
That first Christmas I flew home to visit, I walked in the atrium of their new home. It was a glass octagon-shaped room bathed in natural light. My mom had always dreamt of her own “plant room” as she called it. Now that all three of us were gone, my parents finally had their dream home. Each window was surrounded with sparkling lights and potted poinsettias lined the floor. From the ceiling dangled sparkling snowflakes suspended from invisible fishing line. The snowflakes danced in the wind from the cold winter air that followed me through the entryway. “Ma you did this?”
When my mom smiles, it lights up a room. She has deep dimples in her cheeks and a childlike joy. While her youth might be genetic, I think her spirit carries her a long way. She has always been the one to lighten any situation with laughter and what my Dad calls her “I Love Lucy” moments.
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It was the day after Thanksgiving and my six-year-old daughter asked, “When are we getting our tree?”
The Christmas tree lot had not arrived down the street just yet. I took out some white paper and began folding them into triangles and cutting away random shapes. As I unfolded my creation, my daughter studied my work with interest. “Mommy show me how to do it.”
Within minutes my daughter had become a child possessed. She was a busy little Elf working quickly with small chips of paper filling the floor around her. “I love this! It like magic! You never know what it is going to look like when you open it!”
I took out some thread (we no longer have a fisherman in the house) and I strung them up to line the windowsills and doorways.
Every day when I walk through our home and look up at the snowflakes, I’m taken right back to that first Christmas I came home for the holidays. I feel nostalgic for those Christmases I shared with my family. I feel lucky I had a mom who taught me all those little things that make it feel so magic to a kid – at any age.