This post is part of the series “Christmas at My House.” Reflections on the wide-diversity of Christmas experiences.
I haven’t lived in my hometown of Houston, Texas since I was 18 years old; I’m 31 now. Despite this fact, I’ve only missed one Christmas away from family in my lifetime and that was when I lived in Argentina. Instead of waking up to exchange gifts around the Christmas tree, I phoned family back home from Iguazu Falls – surrounded by trees of the rainforest on the borders of Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina; woe is me!
Nonetheless, whether I’ve made it home 10 times in the year or none, I always make it home for Christmas. As a kid I stayed up late anticipating the arrival of Santa Claus, just like any other kid. I actually lived in a house with a fireplace and chimney and was always concerned about Santa passing over my house if he couldn’t get down our chimney due to a burning fire; wouldn’t want Santa to burn his bum, after all.
And the Christmas tree! Christmas wasn’t Christmas in my house without a beautiful flock spruce decorated in pink Christmas lights with big red ornaments and a golden angel at its peak in place of the traditional Christmas star. Nat King Cole’s Christmas CD would play softly in the background while my sister and I ripped through wrapping paper, unveiling LEGO sets and Nintendo and SEGA Genesis consoles, and EasyBake ovens, and Talkboy recorders from the movie Home Alone 2.
Christmas at my house was always special!
Then mom got sick, and Christmas at my house was different. Then mom passed away, and Christmas at my house was never the same. In fact, Christmas at my house became Christmas at everyone else’s house, because mom and dad became dad and godmoms and dads, and grandparents, and aunts and uncles making sure Christmas continued to be special in spite of the unfortunate circumstances; and boy did they do an awesome job.
The traditional African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” could not have been better reflected than in my Christmas experience and overall upbringing. Christmas at my house became the unwrapping of gifts nestled under multiple Christmas trees at multiple households. Christmas at my house became the warm embrace of multiple family and friends to remind dad and us that the Christmas spirit had not passed on with mom, but continued to live on through all of them as mom continued to live within us.
So to this day, I celebrate Village Christmas, and that means visiting at least 4 households, eating many meals, and warming multiple hearts on Christmas day. And to this day, the 25th of December remains to be only as special as the loved ones I spend it with, which is why I’ll continue to make sure that Christmas at my house is Christmas with my village of family and friends.