Home > Family, Love, Parenting, Youth > Christmas then, Hanukkah now, love always

Christmas then, Hanukkah now, love always

Looking for the menorah, it was the Christmas tree I found first.

My breath caught when I saw that Christmas tree again. My first year lighting my own menorah was my last year opening presents beside a Christmas tree in my mom’s house.

How could I have forgotten that convergence? Even for a second?

I stared at that Christmas tree and remembered the first time I saw it. One of my sisters had sent me a picture of it, newly decorated and standing alone in front of a window through which I’d spent countless hours gazing. Watching for Mom. Watching our garage sale. Watching the rain and wondering if I dared hope for sunnier days.

Our last tree there.

I cried. As I cried, the voice my brother refers to as my inner Spock whispered, “Your response is illogical. Because of your mom’s mental illness, it’s been years since you’ve sat beside a Christmas tree there. You’re Jewish now, besides. So what does this tree have to do with anything?”

It has to do with history.

I set Spock to silent and remembered my many Christmases in that living room. No matter how little money my mom had, she managed to make Christmas magical for her four children, a magic not diminished by their cries of present-ly inequity.

Look at it this way, I told myself. Li’l D will get to open presents where his mama used to open them when she was little. That’s a gift, too.

When Christmas Day actually came, I didn’t need to talk myself through sorrow. I quietly rejoiced my son’s exploration of a house I was shocked to find I loved. How, I wondered, could I have hated it so much only to find the thought of parting with it so very bitter?

After a couple of hours in that freezing not-Mom’s house, my siblings and I packed up our presents. I crossed from the living room onto the front porch knowing I’d unlikely ever enter my childhood home again.

Like my last “I love you” whispered after my last kiss on my mom’s forehead, my near-silent words of farewell to the house were too small for the enormity of the goodbye.

I left Eugene.

The Christmas tree left the house.

The house left our hands, and our hands were bruised from the struggles related.

More than a half a year passed before I returned to Eugene. I was anxious and sad and certain it could never feel like home again.

I felt this way until the moment I saw my brother and brother-in-law waiting for me at PDX.

I saw them and I understood. Instantly.

Home was never in a house. It wasn’t in a Christmas tree or the memory of a million items I can no longer touch with my fingers.

Home was in them. It was in my siblings and my friends, in the tears and the laughter, the heartache and the love we’ve shared.

All those months I’d fretted and feared I’d never be at peace or home again, remedied with a single glimpse.

This year, I’ll be lighting a menorah with my son.

But there will be a Christmas tree lit within my heart as well.

One is the light of my present, and my future. The other is the light of my past, which led me to this blessed place.

If home is where the heart is, I am a lucky woman indeed, for my heart is everywhere I have ever been, with everyone I have ever loved, and in every moment I have to translate to music in the outside world the notes of love inscribed upon it.

Note:
This was among posts accidentally deleted from this blog.
Reposted 6/30/15

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  1. June 30, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    The size of your caring heart means that the world, and probably the universe will be stretched to form your home. Which is lovely.

  2. June 30, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    Still love this post, like I love the lady who wrote it. Especially at that last line: “If home is where the heart is, I am a lucky woman indeed, for my heart is everywhere I have ever been, with everyone I have ever loved, and in every moment I have to translate to music in the outside world the notes of love inscribed upon it.” ❤

  3. June 30, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    This was a delightful post to read. The holidays are difficult for me because of family issues, but stories like this help keep the spirit alive.

  4. Deb
    July 1, 2015 at 5:25 am

    Love this!

  5. July 1, 2015 at 5:46 am

    Such a great story… but Michael Jackson Dress-Up Kit. Rock on!! Tell me it had the sparkly glove!!!

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