Going home for Christmas. Once you become an adult, you find that this is an activity you can’t escape. Don’t get me wrong—I love my childhood home and of course my family, but there is something kind of odd about returning to a place that hasn’t changed much at all in ten years, especially when you’ve changed big time.
It’s like a time machine back to a time in your life—the teenage years—that were at once awkward and influential, and not usually enjoyable (for moody, difficult people like me, anyway).
But I have a tendency to forget about the surprises that can be hiding just around the corner, even in a space that is as familiar to you as your mother’s voice, the creak of your old bedroom’s door, the back of your very own hand.
Growing up as a papergirl in my neighborhood, I was trekking the streets enough that you wouldn’t expect me to have left any stones unturned as far as exploring the spaces in the half dozen or so blocks of modest homes.
And for the most part, I knew them pretty well. There’s the school down the block, the railroad tracks at the far end of the street, the corner store and pizza shop up by the main road, and then there’s the church.
In grade school, I’d throw on my roller skates and go up to the church, which always kept its parking lot freshly asphalted, making it the perfectly smooth surface for me to practice my pretend Olympic ice skating moves. So during my Christmas visit, when my younger sister suggested we take the family dog down to the church, I thought it would be fun to relive some of my childhood experiences there.
Surprises in the Snow
By that time, snow had started to come down pretty hard. We parked in the church parking lot, the only ones there, and took our dog back to the lightly wooded space behind the structure.It was then that I saw the space anew; I only have memories of it in the summertime, and here it was before me, a sort of winter wonderland. The snow, thick on the ground, weighed heavy on the thin branches of the trees. As far as I could see, everything was blanketed in white.
I ran to the top of a hill, where I could see traffic moving carefully and hear the highway in the distance, and called for the dog. He ran up to me enthusiastically, plowing through those perfect snowbanks. Next we let him sniff around a bit by a grouping of trees. Then we walked through what appeared to be a small path through the “woods,” all while the snow continued to fall in true Christmas fashion.
When did this winter wonderland pop up? Why had I not seen it, not experienced it like this as a kid? In any case, I was enchanted by this little surprise, and was happy to be accompanied by family when it happened.