First, I want to thank everyone who has already signed up for this year's ornament swap! At the moment, my inbox is weighted with emails from excited individuals—people from the States, Australia, England, Trinidad, Ireland, and Spain. I love that so many different people, with so many different backgrounds and interests and traditions, are willing to take part. (If you're interested, you can learn more about the swap and how to sign up here.) And it's cheesy, corny, clichéd, over-used, whatnot—but still, I'll say it: it warms my soul to witness this eagerness, this excitement for the upcoming season.

Christmas is going to be different this year. I've been around for twenty-some years, for twenty-some Christmases. And each one of those, every single one of those Christmas holidays, has been spent in Iowa. My home state. My hometown. With my family. At my mom's house, a small bungalow that is easily filled with the smothering aromas of turkey and duck and cinnamon and evergreen. Where the air is warm, the atmosphere welcoming, the hugs tight and long. A Charlie Brown Christmas or A Christmas Story or White Christmas on the TV, muted, supplemented instead by jazzy, classic tunes emanating from the radio.

It's going to be different this year.

The other night, during one of our regular hour-and-a-half phone calls, my mom reminded me that I'm not able to come home this year. That I'm going to have to be away, for once, and am going to have to "put on my big girl pants."

"But, mom," I said with unsurprising sarcasm, "you know I don't wear pants. You know I don't advocate the use of or the wearing of them. They're oppressive. You know this. They're trousered tyranny." My voice pressed. "If I don't wear pants, how can I put on 'big girl pants' and, as you say, 'deal with it'?"

My mom's reeling laugh overtook my rant about pantslessness and it was then, over the phone, over the hundreds of miles of static air, that I missed her. Christmases with her and my brother and my sister-in-law and my cat and, hell, even my grandma. And even though my heart ached with homesickness, I had to smile.

I won't be alone; I know this. I'll have someplace to go, people to spend it with. And though those people won't be my mom or my brother or my sister-in-law or my grandmother, they will still be people who care about me. And there will still be hugs and food and music and cinnamon and candles. And, if in the middle of that hustle and bustle, if I still miss my mom, I can always reach for my phone, stretch my voice through the airwaves, and tell her, "I love you. Merry Christmas."


  1. Don't be sad, beautiful Dawn!
    I'm sure you'll find a way to invent a new kind of Christmas celebration, from scratch, with aromas and sighs of your own fancy, and—incidentally—with the tiny clamor of us, ornament swappers. :)

    Thank you again for hosting this swap!
    - xo

  2. I hope you will have a wonderful Christmas, Dawn, where you can think of your family and miss them, but nevertheless have a really good time. It will work out, you'll see.

  3. hahah i like how you tried to side step her by saying you're not into pants- that's something i'd probably say too :) and i'm in the same boat as you and it stinks! i won't make it back home to chicago for thanksgiving, which happens to be my favorite holiday. and i can't cook. so there's that =P

    xo marlen
    Messages on a Napkin


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