Home For the Holidays

This last week was full of hustle and bustle. The holiday time meant a trip home for me.

But at this moment in my life, home is an operative word. I have lots of homes. With my parents being divorced since I was four, I have never really known a time where one single place was home. And now, with the in-laws that added another sense of home to the mix.

So in the last week, I had 5 family holiday celebrations, met with 3 old wonderful friends, and traveled from/to three different cities. I was able to visit and catch up with so many friends and family. Some people I had not seen in 6 years! Yay for a reunion with the Rydman family!

Even with the bouncing around, all of it felt like home. It was good to be surrounded by familiarity.

A week ago, I was not singing the same tune. I was down in the dumps about going home. I was very very anxious and apprehensive about my holiday vacation. I was worried that I would feel even more alone with all of the reminders about Tom being gone for the holiday season. I thought that I would get fed up with all the questions and conversations about Tom being gone and when he would return. This was also going to be the first time that I have ever spent the night at my in-laws without Tom around. Let’s talk about a Tom reminder! I thought I was setting myself up for a nervous breakdown sleeping in his childhood home. I didn’t want to think about Tom being gone, and I knew at home I would have to face it head on. Expletive said here.

Luckily, I have never been more wrong!

This trip was exactly what I needed.

I saw my family and friends while in my hometown. It was busy busy going from one house to the next everyday, some days even more than one house. Grace and I definitely traipsed all over that town! But it was a great distraction to be so busy. And it was nice to be with the comfort of my family and have our traditions still happen even though my world is a little off-kilter. Here’s to the shrimp at my grandparents’, Christmas Day malt-o-meal with my dad and stepmom, brisket buffet with the Coles (step-extended family), and banana bread with my mom! Hmm I see a theme with our traditions being based around food…. And then being able to see the friendly faces of some of my bestest friends over the years, words cannot describe how great this was.

Then rounding out the Tour de Missouri, I traveled to my in-laws. Being able to talk about Tom the way we did…I don’t really know how to explain it, but it was very peaceful and calming for me. We could talk about Tom and just be normal about it. It didn’t have to be focused on the Army or being in Afghanistan. We talked about what the next couple years would look like and the plans we have for family. It was not a conversation about Tom like I have with many with pity in their eyes or a worried brow.  I didn’t have to repeat things over and over, which can get exhausting at times to have the same conversation with everyone I meet. I sometimes feel like I just need to record myself with the scripted answers and just play it on loop. (He is coming home in the spring–He is doing pretty well–I get to talk to him every day, and yes I realize that is UNREAL–It’s a day by day process.) I was able to talk about Tom like he was there with us. It may sound kooky but there was a Tom aura there that maybe only I felt, but either way it was very comforting. And it was just normal. There wasn’t all this hoopla about Tom being gone and what he is doing. We did all miss him terribly and it definitely wasn’t the same, but I think we all were just tired of focusing on the fact that he is gone. We realize it’s not something we can change, and sometimes you don’t want to focus on the empty chair at the dining table. (Which is what I had been doing prior to the trip…) I don’t know if I would have felt all of this without the people who are so closely related to him reminding me of him so much. (Our niece, Ava, is so much like him, it’s silly…) So what I was most afraid of was actually the best thing for me!

And there was no nervous breakdown! I only cried twice on the whole entire trip and that was because of a news report of soldiers surprising their kids by coming home (this was more of a mad/jealous cry) and then crying during Les Mis (so nothing to do with Tom-sorry babe). Success!

The dictionary says home is “a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family, or household.”

Home took a very different meaning for me this last week. It was a place I could go to and be comforted and celebrate all the good things. It’s a place where love just kind of wraps you up like a warm blanket. It’s where you can go and feel like you never left and pick up where you left off. It’s a place that puts you at ease, somewhere to rest your hat so to speak. It’s a place where you go for family.

I went to a lot of “homes” this past week, and it was a perfect way to spend my time without Tom around.

As Dorothy says, “There is no place like home.”

And on the holiday note, this is my last homemade Christmas gift for this year.

Sidebar–I feel that homemade Christmas went over really well. I had a great time with it! And everyone seemed to enjoy it on their side too. (Or my family is really good at lying to me about liking their presents.) It really was a labor of love you were giving away. So I think we all had fun with it. The only down side was trying to figure out how to transport all of it back home.

Anyway, I am pretty proud of myself for this particular gift because it is my first attempt at using my sewing machine.

I have not used a sewing machine since 7th grade Home Ec which was in 1997/98. So needless to say, I needed some guidance on this one.

My mom helped me freshen up my sewing skills, and we used this pattern as our guide.


I did not take any “as we were going pictures” since this site explains it perfectly. This was a pretty easy project to get back into the swing of things with a sewing machine.

I made these for my brother so he could have them so he and his daughter could start their own holiday traditions with stocking stuffers. Maybe he will continue the tradition of toothbrushes and a deck of cards…


And after being reminded of how to use the sewing machine, I think I can start doing other varieties of crafts. 2013 get ready!