Thursday, December 20, 2012


Today feels like a party. I'm giddy, bordering on manic, and it has everything to do with the proximity to a chunk of time off and a trip up north. Also I can't say for sure, could be the sugar and caffeine talking,  but it feels like my holiday spirit is kicking in.

I know (because I have tried, over the years) that the magical, Christmas-y feeling isn't something that can be forced, and this year I have made some half-assed attempts to access it, but honestly didn't expect it to come. And it's funny, because right now, all I can think about is how much this time of year meant to Nik and me and our friendship and focusing on that is a pure flame of joy lit up inside my sadness. We made a big deal of the holiday, setting aside a special time to exchange gifts and eat my mom's delicious carmelita bars. We'd always give each other a joke present and a serious one. One of my favorite pictures of all time is of Nik modeling the fingerless black lace gloves I got her one year. I'll leave it to you to determine whether they were the real or gag. Since we were in high school we had a tradition of buying each other the sappiest Hallmark cards we could find, and filling them with our own language of in-jokes and sarcasm, to cut the treacle. But even as we poked fun at sentiment, our gooey hearts were never far from the surface. The message was always clear: you are awesome and I love you and it's the best thing in the world that you are my friend. And I never stopped feeling that way, even when circumstances kept us apart.

This is my last day in the office until after Christmas, which invites its own kind of celebratory vibe, but the thought of going home, to my family, where I will take care and be taken care of, is the gift of the ages. It is exactly what I need. Always, but especially right now. Home where there is snow. Where I know every person in the grocery store. Where the section of the cemetery where children who died way before their parents is entirely too large. That mix of "isn't it nice to be back," and "thank goodness I got out and get to leave again soon," positive and negative, it's all part of what makes it home. My blood is there, my history (though at this point I've been out longer than I was in), my people. I can't avoid the reminders of being in the hometown I shared with my lifetime friend, but I can handle it. I never want to stop being reminded that Niki was here. And there. And everywhere, in my heart and mind. And I'll celebrate, being with my family who are my friends, and the friends who are family, because we are together and it's Christmas. And I'll stuff my face, and go out "on the town" with my siblings, and that can only ever be ridiculously good.

Most exciting for me is being part of  HR's first, proper "Santa's coming!" Christmas Eve. I've only ever seen the wonder of the holiday from the other side, because my brother was ten years younger than me and we kept up Santa for as long as we could. I'm not kidding, for as long as he believed (and probably years after), the kids, including Mike, when he turned up, would all bunk together in one room on Christmas Eve, and come out of the room together in the morning to view Santa's bounty as a single unit. I've never been around to eat the cookies and leave the presents. And I can't wait for my shot (though as far as my child knows, Santa gets nachos and beer left for him). HR may or may not believe in any religion as he grows up, we're leaving that open to him, but it's important to me that he believes in magic while he's still so little. I know the window is short and I'm crashing through it with my jingle bell bandolier and jar of pixie dust.

Anyway, no matter what's going on with you for the next week, I hope it's filled with love.

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