There’s No Place Like Home

For the holidays.  Or if you wear kickin’ sparkly red pumps and live in Kansas.  Or if you’re me.

I took a brief hiatus from the trip to be home for the holidays in St. Louis, in the house I grew up in, the four walls I came home from the hospital to after I was born.  There is nothing that compares to the feeling I get when I’m in the space of my house.  I always feel a little bit tall, actually, because I spent so much of my time here as a shorter-than-5’6″ version of myself.  The floor creaks in all the same spots.  The grandfather clock reminds me that 15 more minutes have passed.  And I was treated to the sound of rain on the roof above my bedroom….one of the most comforting sounds my heart will ever know.

The main purpose for this visit (aside from that fact that a lot of people have plans around this time of year and wouldn’t be available to hang out) was our 24th annual Christmas Caroling party, which my family has held in our neighborhood the Monday before Christmas.  My mom started the tradition to cheer up a friend of hers who was having a hard time during the holidays.  Mom was a soprano to her friend’s alto, and they enjoyed singing together.  There’s actually an organization called the St. Louis Christmas Carols Association, which collects money for children’s charities in the area, and they give you cans to collect the money and song sheets and such.  Over the years, we’ve caroled in just about every kind of precipitation you can imagine and raised about $3000.  And of course, you can’t forget the treats and beverages that get set out every year: mini cheesecakes on silver platters and eggnog in a holly berry punch bowl.

This will be the last year that our family will host caroling in the neighborhood because my dad will be getting remarried and moving out of the house.  So as we circled the neighborhood in the pouring rain, I spent most of the evening lingering at my neighbors’ doors and visiting, many of them sharing memories of caroling or Mom or plans for the holidays.  One mom ran to get her teenage son saying, “I want my kids to know that people still do this in this country!”  This tradition has been such a pinnacle piece of my upbringing, instilling in me musicality (I first learned to hear and sing harmony parts by going caroling), generosity, community, hospitality, joy.

In the midst of a journey that has brought many a hello and goodbye, I was able to give a fond farewell to a beautiful tradition from my childhood.  I think that girl from Kansas was onto something: there really is no place like home.


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