I’m expecting this to be the best Christmas ever. Deck the halls with boughs of holly, my boys are coming home.
This will be the first Christmas when both the boys are coming from far away — one at school, the other working in the world. And soon, they will come home to Mom and lights, buttered biscuits and hot coffee. You getting the picture? Right out of Hallmark, just the way I’ve envisioned it for years. Everything but the horse-drawn sleigh.
I’m not going to have loads of money to shower on them this year; college is expensive. And also, I’ve been helping the guys out all year with a new apartment, busted cars, emergency travel and incidentals. Now I’m about broke.
But that’s not going to matter, because truth be told, my young men are way past big-gift Christmas mornings. They have been for several years now.
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Things changed for us when their dad died suddenly just days before Christmas in 2010. Death always seems to come knocking right around the holidays, doesn’t it?
So unless we are with my sister in New York, we don’t make a big deal out of the morning gift exchange the way we did when Ceaser was alive. That was always his thing. When the guys were little it was hard to tell who was more excited about tearing into presents, him or the boys.
Me? I love Christmas Eve.
I fill the house with music, and everybody sings. I light candles and we put the final touches on the tree. I fix a bunch of finger foods — kabobs, shrimp, cheese, dips and crackers — so everyone is snacking and singing and laughing and dancing. There’s wine and eggnog. Sometimes a neighbor or a family friend will stop by. I start cooking Christmas dinner on the eve, and that adds a whole ’nother level of warmth and good smells.
It sounds corny but it really is all about being together, and since we’ve been apart all year I’m thinking this year is going to be epic.
Oh, I’ve picked up a few things to wrap and toss under the tree, but nothing elaborate. I’m looking forward to making them breakfast, to the conversations we’ll have at the dining room table, to dinners where I don’t have to wash the dishes.
I’m looking forward to all the noise filling the house. An empty nest is cool and all, but mostly because it makes you realize how great it was when the kids were driving you crazy.
My boys know how much this all means to me. They asked if I was doing New York this year. When my answer was no, I want you coming home for the holiday, they both got it right away.
It’s one of the reasons I bought a house in the first place, so they would always have some place warm and familiar to come home to.