As I fastened the latest Christmas card to my gardener’s twine strung atop my bookcase yesterday evening, I felt a nostalgic twinge. Cheerful paper cards strewn with glitter balance on top of the bookcase, and glossy photo cards of families and friend’s babies hang from tiny clothespins below.
Christmas has always meant family time to me, ever since I left home for college in 1997. Christmas break was the only time I returned home to Ecuador to see my parents and sister every year. I remember the exhilaration of glancing out the plane window as the airline crested the fierce mountains that guard Quito’s valley. Quito’s city lights twinkled, and I knew I was home.
Later, Christmas was the time my younger sister Kelley came back to California for a rushed two week visit from her college. Now, after marrying and moving away, Christmas is when my sister, our husbands and I descend on my parent’s house in Idaho, anxiously anticipating cooking, teasing and laughing together. It’s the only time of year we are all together, flung across the country as we are.
Those shiny cards on my bookshelf represent friends, old and new. Friends who I saw last week, and friends who I haven’t heard from since their card last year. But no matter. I’m feel honored to receive a piece of their lives and hearts as I rip open the envelope and hang their card.
Each person represents a piece of my life. In my nomadic life, there is no one place that means home to me. But each person, each friendship, makes a piece of home for me wherever I have a friend.