Now that I've gone through Thoughts On Death I feel that I can talk about my Christmas vacation on a lighter note. I took no pictures of the actual vacation part, so everything you see here was pulled from one of my relatives' Facebook accounts.
I was having trouble with my inability to be home for Christmas. I cried big ugly sobs one night for no other reason than hearing Jo Stafford's child say, "You sing it, mommy," on her album Happy Holidays: I Love The Winter Weather. It's a fantastic record, by the way. Trips to America are expensive, and after the incredible summer vacation in Trinidad and the U.S.* it would have been fiscally irresponsible to go home again. I knew that in my head, but my heart was breaking.
However, once I had given all that homesickness to the good Lord-y, I came to terms with baby's first Christmas away from home. I made plans with ALTs stuck in Japan for the holidays. I was going to make mochi with some girls from my calligraphy class. I was going to go to Taiwan after the New Year with Kim-Chi. I would clean my house, organize all of my school papers, and write. I went all out on Christmas presents and shipped them home. I made my own Christmas decorations and several batches of winter cider. I was an adult, dangit, and I would not forget the joy of Christmas just because I wouldn't be in Oklahoma on the 25th.
All that changed when my grandmother passed away. Suddenly I was rushing to pack, clean my house (thanks, Dara and Kim-Chi!) and catch a plane home. The sadness of my loved one's death cast a pall on the occasion, but I was going home!
The first couple of days are blurry now. My sister and I managed to sit together on the flight from Dallas to Tulsa, and when I slept off my travel she went out and got a new job. I got to see some of my favorite people in the world, ate way too much at every meal, and attended my grandmother's funeral. My siblings and I performed a short interpretation of The Nutcracker twice. I heard my parents rap at least three times (and misguided my mother on how to "throw down"). I told my family what I'd decided to do for life, helped serve communions, helped fumigate our house, and wrote a song with my siblings in honor of our cousin's birthday. It was busy.
Any Christian worth his or her salt knows that Jesus was born in spring, and that the wise men didn't find him until he was a toddler. Those nativity scenes are pretty bogus. I know that Christmas was a holiday created in order to give Christians something to celebrate during the solstice festivities. I don't blame old Pope Julius for it. The end results are awesome. You know, after caroling stopped being a drunken, mischievous affair and the church quit outlawing it. Point is, I love the reason Christmas was created. I love what Christmas ideals are now. I love Jesus, I love my family and friends, and I love giving presents.
I did discover that I could spend Christmas away from home and still love it. I still think Karen Carpenter sang it right. There's no place like home for the holidays.
*I'll finish those blog posts someday, but I lost my notebook on an airplane. Many of the details and dates are gone.
Note: If you want to see the pictures full-size you can a) click on them, or b) send a Facebook friend request to my aunt.