Thursday, January 04, 2007

I'll be home For Christmas

I'll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree

Christmas eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams
1943, by Walter Kent (music) and James Gannon (words) the old song goes.

I went home again this past Christmas, as I always do. No dream required. I have been in Kansas City since 1997 and have never spent a Christmas Day or Christmas Eve here. Without fail, I have went back to Decatur; rain, snow, sleet, whatever thrown at me has never stopped me.

I am lucky in a way; my sister still owns and lives in the house I grew up in, I was about 4 when we moved to the new suburban house from the smaller house in the city. I don't remember the first house much, just a few fuzzy memories of my mom and the neighbors interacting.

My sister is older than I, almost a different generation than me. For years we were strangers, but with mom and dad gone and an extended family that is nowhere near close (I have aunts and cousins I have not seen in years) we are all we have. My kids are grown now and have their own agendas, Christmas at Dad's is unthinkable to them as it was for me at that age. They'll come around someday.

Christmas at home is far from exciting. We eat, Donna watches her omnipresent TV, I bitch at all the junk she collects, she eats more and shops more. We go to the Midden's on Christmas Eve, despite the fact that Dee is frail and Bob is in a nursing home. Wine and beer has been replaced with diet soda and tea. I have went over there for as long as I can remember. Dee's cooking is suspect, but she never fails to have a spread. She still gives everyone a tacky present, but her heart is 100% gold.

Donna and I are lousy present givers. We always know what each of us got each other. Makes it easy but it takes the drama out of it. Sometimes the gifts are are still in the sack from the store. I am a lousy wrapper, so it takes some of the anxiety out of it.

Puggles always comes along. She likes visiting Aunt Donna, lots of yard to explore and a neighborhood safe to walk in. Donna professes to be annoyed by her, but I think she secretly adores her. For Puggles, any one who lounges on a couch is the top, so she thinks Aunt Donna is a goddess.

Home is getting shabby. The house needs some work. It, like us, is getting old. Neither of us have the money to sink into the place. We replace as needed, like the roof and the Air conditioner and the tree trim. The big ice storm last month did a number on all the trees and knocked down my apple tree I planted in about 1966-67. But despite all, she still stands, many of the same neighbors are there, the woods I loved to explore still beckons, and I still have a key. I have someplace I can always go. Not being homeless is a great feeling.

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