Sunday, December 20, 2015

Truly Home for the Holidays

Gingerbread cookies, country plaid, and pine cones decorate Nic's kitchen.
The phrase "home for the holidays" has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? I've always thought so. But I have a confession to make. During twenty-some years on the move with the military, "home" always meant packing up and heading back to the state where it all started for Mr. Christoff and me. If at all possible, we'd travel across the continent each holiday season to crash at his parents' place, and then mine. We'd swing by my grandma's for plenty of home cooking. As if we were kids, we'd stay up late with siblings and cousins, and we'd always meet up with childhood friends. As a result, the house where we lived the rest of the year often got neglected at the holidays. Oh, I might manage to hang some kind of wreath on the door, but that would be about it--until this year!

All year long, you awesome reader, have followed each of the Rockville 8 on our personal journeys of growth and discovery. My own path has brought me to that stage of life called "nesting," and now that I'm in a house for the long haul, I can't think of a better time of year than the long, dark nights of winter to do just that. As a result, I've got homey gingerbread hearts decorating my kitchen this season. My living room is dressed in gold-tipped, glistening evergreens. And in the bedroom, flannel snowmen sheets chase away the chill when it's time to cuddle up at the end of the day.

There have been days this December, however, when it's still hard to think of our house as "home." However, maybe that has less to do with the habits developed over my husband's military career. Maybe, instead, it has to do with accepting that some of our loved ones are aging. Some have even passed away. "Home" has changed, and maybe, deep down, I suspect it's slipping away.

Of course, the true meaning of home doesn't have to disappear. Home, quite simply, is where the heart is. So, this year, I'm opening my heart and decorating my house. We'll crash at our place where we've followed grandma's recipes and we've got cousins are on the way. I'll be truly home for the holidays, and I hope you will be, too.


  1. Ah, I know this feeling so well! In many respects I'm still living it the way you used to - each Christmas finds me heading back "home" and it can make the prospect of decorating my own home seem a bit pointless.

    This year, though, I've dressed the nest with a few cherished objets d'christmas, including a funky tableau that includes candles, a mini silver tree, two glass angels, and a laminated doodle of the three wise men I drew way back in high school. Lighting the candles each evenings brings peace to my heart, laying the groundwork for a joyous holiday.

    May your days be merry and bright, Nic!

    1. Awesome course of action, Keely! As you say, even a tableau of the tabletop variety and some quality time at the end of the day can really bring the holidays home. Thank you, too, for the warm wishes. All the best to you and yours!

  2. Wonderful post, Nic! What a great reminder that Home is different for all of us. I'm traveling this year, myself, and so Home for me is where my sweetie is. :-) I hope your holiday is lovely. Mine just got a little lovelier, because of this post. :-)

  3. Oh, Misha! Thanks for leaving such a sweet comment for us while you're on your travels. Being with the one you love can't be beat. Happy holidays to you!

  4. Lovely post, Nichole. Yes, my oldest when I took him back to school this past week made the same remark ... Home is where the heart is ... when I said Home Again Home Again Jiggedy Jig. He had to admit school was not home, and that his heart was with us back at his childhood home. Which made me both happy and sad. School is his temporary home, but, as you, for now, he will need to travel across country to get back to family and those he loves. Loved your post. And so glad you were able to create a homey space this holiday. Hugs!

  5. How lovely (and bittersweet) your son shared that with you! Here's to all the years ahead when you all can come together! And from the sounds of things, your son is taking a little bit of home with him as he goes out into the world. How wonderful is that?

  6. Nichole - What a lovely post and how true! One of my dearest friends lost her mother on December 27 and I've been thinking a lot about her. She told me that she feels cast adrift without both of her parents (her father died in 2012). Christmas can be a bittersweet thing, both sad and happy. Glad you're finding home where you are.

  7. Hi, Lisa. What an especially difficult time of year to lose someone close. Moms are so central to the meaning of "home," aren't they? I'm sorry to hear of your friend's loss and I hope the Christmases ahead will bring back happy memories of her mother, too. Thanks for sharing.