Just kick the snow off your boots on the porch and come on in. There are hooks beside the door for your coat. Toss your hat anywhere.
I’ve been simmering cinnamon sticks and orange peels to make our home smell sweet for you. Head on into the living room. There, you’ll smell the pine of the Christmas tree and the perfume of the paperwhites too. Those, I planted with your Holiday Sister, Eleanor. She’s four and is fascinated by flowers and how they grow. She’ll probably ask you to read her a story, if you look amenable. Would you like some hot chocolate to help you warm up?
Oh, and I hope you’re okay with cats. And cat hair. Hazel and Grace shed all over all the furniture. I can find a lint brush if you’ve worn black, not to worry. Hazel will probably find her way to your lap pretty quickly.
Our home is quiet. Peaceful. We’re three introverts. That means no small talk tonight. We want to know what you’re dreaming for yourself and who you love and where your heart is hurting. Tell us everything. And you can cry around us if you need to. We’re good with that.
When you need a break from playing with a four-year-old, you can help me roll out the dough for the pie crust in the kitchen, if you like. We can talk, just the two of us, or we can be quiet for a while. I’ll stir the pie filling on the stove — cherry, because it was my dad’s favourite.
I was thinking of him as I sat down to write to you. My dad, your Holiday Grandfather, died this fall and it’s our first Christmas Eve without him. I wish you could have met! Because he would have liked you, I know it. What I was thinking of was something I found once in a shoe box in a high cupboard in his kitchen years ago. It was a stack of papers that he’d cut into small squares, each a copy of the same Henry David Thoreau quote:
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”
I asked him why he had all these little notes and he explained that they were for his “kids.” My dad was a high school teacher and over his career taught hundreds of teenagers, seeing so many through some of the hardest years of life. (When older people say “it gets better”, we really do know what we’re talking about. High school is hard.) He told me that when he had a student who felt different and seemed to be struggling with it, he would invite them to stay after class, would give them one of these quotes, and would tell them just how interesting they are. He knew that it’s the kids who are “different” who become adults who know how to march to their own drummers. He liked these kids.
I know you feel different, and not everyone you love has accepted you. But I accept you. And believe you. And am so proud of you to know already at your age who you are. Do you know how many people get far into adulthood without ever having heard their own drumbeat? You are ahead of so many and might not even realize, dear one. And I’m not the only one to be so impressed with you. There are people in your life now, and there are so many more on their way.
The table is already set because that’s my favourite part. The centrepiece is mosses and river rocks and the blooming paperwhites in my grandmother’s crystal vase. Our napkins don’t match. (I don’t like matching linens — too boring!). Your Holiday Father, my husband, taught himself woodturning and made the candlesticks. They’re cool, right? And they don’t match either, at my request. Want to light the candles for us?
We don’t say grace but all take a moment together before eating to feel gratitude for the food and for the company. We’re having turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce, and turnip and candied carrots. There’s also my favourite white kidney bean and pomegranate salad, in case you’re vegan. Could I pour you some sparkling grape juice in one of the mismatched wine glasses?
We are so glad you’re here. We are so glad you can share this meal with us, and that we have this chance to know you, and to meet you in this time in your life when everything is just beginning. You are such a force, and now we get to watch you as you find your way and become even more of who you are. We’re honoured. Thank you for choosing us to spend Christmas with.
Holiday Mom Carrie
* Editors Note: For those new to our site, please understand that all conversations about meeting are meant as virtual. We do not facilitate live interactions due to our legal liabilities if we were to do so.