Michelle Martin

Home for the holidays

Sunday, January 3, 2010

“I’ll be home for Christmas,” the song goes. “You can count on me.”

Making it home for Christmas (or, for that matter, New Year’s) has never been too difficult for me. Even when I had to work on a few Christmases when I was young, I slept in my own bed.

Staying home on Christmas, that’s something else again.

This year, for the first time, my family and I did not go anywhere on Christmas Day.

Not to Wisconsin to see my parents ... a generally restful trip, but one that requires the kids to pack up a few of their favorite gifts and leave the rest behind for a few days.

One year, that led Caroline to announce that she couldn’t wait to get home to see Papa, my husband’s father, and Frank to chime in that he couldn’t wait to get back to his Fisher-Price garage. But he was only 3 at the time.

Not to see any aunts or uncles or cousins, as wonderful as all those people are.

Not even to church, after having attended the 4 p.m. children’s Mass where the kids go to school (Frank’s class was doing the nativity pageant) and Midnight Mass in our own parish. Three Christmas Masses in 24 hours would have been overkill.

Instead, we slept late, opened the presents under the tree, laughed at the dog wearing a necklace of tree garland, and generally puttered around.

Games were played, new clothes were admired and naps were taken. No one was in much of a hurry to do anything, but we had fun. I think the only time I went outside was to walk the dog, and the kids only went out to play in the snow.

That’s not to say there was no holiday hustle and bustle this year ... just not on Christmas itself. And that’s not to say next year will be like this. But for this year, the time at home — a day with no work, no shopping, no sports practices or rehearsals or club meetings — was its own gift.

The quiet didn’t last, of course. It never does, and honestly, too much of a good thing just isn’t a good thing anymore. After a few more days at home, the kids were getting bored (Frank was playing Monopoly by himself after I imposed a one-Monopoly-game-a-day limit on myself) and our thoughts turned toward the projects and events of the coming year.