For the past few days Fred and I have been settling into our new home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I have had that song, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” on my mind. I realize that it has taken me a very long time, but for the first time in my life I feel like I truly am home for Christmas. Even though we don’t have a tree, no decorations other than six dozen white roses I bought on the street yesterday, and are just now barely unpacked, I know that I have come home.
When I was a child, Christmas was a very conflicted time for me. For some reason it was when the underlying turmoil between my parents always came to a head. A few years after I left home for good, and after some pretty intense psychotherapy, I stopped going to see my parents at Christmas (it was just too depressing), but the painful memories were still there. When you are an only child you become the solitary target of any dysfunctions that are going on between your parents. You become the caretaker and the peacemaker. And, then, hopefully, you realize that you just can’t fix it.
As is the case with most children from disturbed homes, I ended up in a very troubled first marriage. In many ways, I married my mother. The memories of Christmases from those eight years of my twenties are just about as grim as my memories from childhood.
When I had the very good fortune of meeting Fred, my life changed in some very wonderful ways. But, I still just couldn’t get into Christmas. We usually always went to Hope, Arkansas to do Christmas with his family. When I first met his family they seemed so perfectly normal to me that it was kind of intimidating. Of course, they weren’t, but it did take a few years to figure that out.
After we were married for two years, everything suddenly kicked in to high gear for me at Christmas time. I started the jewelry business, and that is the busiest time of the year. I had so much stress with work, but no matter what, we still went to Arkansas like clockwork. It was still hard for me to get into the spirit, as I had work on my mind and was usually exhausted. I always had to be ready for the big New York wholesale show in early January, so it was hard to relax.
After Fred’s mom passed away, and after we retired, we traveled some at Christmas time, usually to Mexico. That was great, but it never felt like we were at home. Even when we stayed in Nashville, we never shared Christmas with friends, as they always were spending it with their families. For the past few years that we were in Nashville for Christmas we had a meal at a hotel. Just the two of us. We tried to make it festive, but it was weird.
For the past several days we have been in a very different situation. I was very motivated to get unpacked because today we are having a couple of friends over for the big meal. They are bringing the meat course, I am cooking the rest. Some other friends are dropping by for dessert. The house that we just bought here is really shifting into being home. It really looks like we live here. I realized as I unpacked that most of the things I treasure most around the house are things that I have bought in Mexico over the years, brought back to Tennessee, and now are back in my Mexican home. All our treasures look like they were meant for this very house.Today Fred went out and bought some beautiful gas logs, which a very efficient guy installed. The fireplace is looking great, and even though it does get chilly here at night in the winter, we are toasty. Things here are in pretty good shape. I do feel that I really am at home. I feel like I am in the home. And, it’s Christmas.