“I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.” Bing Crosby’s deep voice came from my phone, while I was preparing panettones for our Christmas morning breakfast. I was happily mixing the nuts and fruits into the sticky dough and thought about that song. Home for the holidays…I knew that this song was originally written from the perspective of American soldiers, stationed overseas during WWII, but it sounds good to nearly everyone. Home for the Holidays. If you check the amount of people traveling during these weeks, most people do just do that: going ‘home’ to celebrate with their loved ones.
It made me wonder what my home is. This is my fifteenth Christmas in Maine and I have a beautiful house that is decorated in the Christmas spirit. I love being home. No work, no stress, my favorite chair, a glass of wine or a cup of tea, a good book, some baking and cooking and everything else is optional.
I think back of Christmases long ago, where we spent one day (First Christmas day) with one set of parents and another one (Second Christmas day) with the other set. In both cases, you had to dress somewhat nicely, didn’t do much other than chat, drink and eat. It never felt all that satisfactory somehow. Christmas felt somewhat as an obligation, a time of stress and social events, where you can’t really do what you honestly want to do. A time in which you don’t want to disappoint your loved ones and by preventing that, you disappoint yourself a bit. It’s all for the greater good, to please your family, etc.
Now I think of it, it really never occurred to me that ‘going home’ at Christmas time would even be an option: I am home. And because we live so far away, there is no social pressure or expectation for us to go ‘home’. It’s delightful, really! I get to do what I would like to do, my kids don’t even dress on Christmas day, but stay in their pajamas all day and I don’t care. We eat a nice breakfast (those panettones were absolutely delicious), open the gifts (one from each person, so usually about 4 or 5 per person: nothing too crazy) and clean up. The kids play their new games, try out the new art sets or do whatever they want to do. I read my newly obtained book (without new books, is it really Christmas at all?), drink a glass of wine and I feel truly merry.
Home for the holidays to me means being in my home, here in Maine. Home is the place I fell in love with many Christmases ago. Of course I miss my family, at times even terribly, but in general I kind of like the no-stress holidays. I have moments that I wish I could ‘beam’ myself to the other continent to have a cup of coffee with my mother and father, go shopping with my sister, drink a whiskey with my brother or play with my nieces and nephews. Traveling to the Netherlands during holiday season and hopping form one house to another however, does not very much appeal to me.
Every time I cross the bridge, I feel like I am coming home. This island has become a home for me in a way words cannot describe. I don’t know what it is, maybe the mountains, the ocean, the climate, the people and community, the fresh air, the amazing starlight skies. Maybe all of them. No matter what, this is the place I call home and this is where I want to be during the holidays. As for the other ‘home’: I’ll be there in my dreams!