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.