"There's no place like home for the holidays," or so sings Perry Como (and the countless other artists who have covered the song). With being a military teen, though, I find myself wondering what exactly this phrase means for me as someone whose home is constantly moving. So, I decided to revisit some of my least favorite and favorite homes from holidays past.
PCSing: The Car Christmas
Raise your hand if you’ve done this one! The gifts we opened at our hotel were quickly loaded into the car the next day so we could set off on the first leg of our journey across the US to our next duty station. I’m still proud of my family’s resilience and ability to make the best of things. This Christmas certainly holds the record for the closest my family has ever been. Literally. We were all crammed into hotels and our car! However, I can't say it was my favorite Christmas. While I love my family a lot, it’s nice to be able to move my legs.
California: The COVID Christmas
To be fair, it's not California's fault that I happened to spend Christmas there during the pandemic. The coastline was absolutely beautiful, and we had a lovely walk on the beach. However, the omnipresence of COVID-19 definitely put a damper on my mood. It made me grateful for my own family's health, but I felt a lot of social isolation and grief. And there was something a bit strange about listening to “Winter Wonderland” while walking around in nothing more than a light jacket.
Georgia: The Carefree Christmas
Oh, the Christmases of my childhood. I do like my Christmases to be snowy, but what Georgia lacks in snow, it makes up for with nostalgia. Our stay in Georgia was the one place where we lived on base, and I remember comparing presents with my neighbors and playmates and excitedly playing with our new toys during the days after Christmas. Between watching The Polar Express in school, swapping homemade cookies with friends, and making the adorable ornaments that adorn my family's tree to this day, my Christmases in Georgia were playful and fun.
Germany: The Cultural Christmas
What wouldn't I give for a lebkuchen right now? Germany's Christmas markets and delectable holiday foods are, as far as I'm concerned, the epitome of the Christmas spirit. Although I always complained that my feet were cold, nothing beats shopping around at Christmas markets to find handmade gifts for your family and yummy food. I can still make myself hungry by remembering foods like baumstriezel, stollen, and schaumküsse, and some of my favorite mementos come from the many markets we perused. There were so many interesting German traditions to learn about throughout the whole holiday season, and the extra week of winter break in my DODEA school was definitely a plus.
New York: The Cozy Christmas
It doesn't get much more wintry than a blizzard dumping five feet of snow on Christmas day, which is exactly what happened last December. We all snuggled up cozily inside, occasionally venturing out to help my dad shovel, only to return to the living room for hot tea and chocolate. The crazy weather made us feel so warm and cozy together, and we had tons of fun playing in the snow in the days that followed. I'm thankful for the quality time I got to spend with my little siblings, just being a playful kid, which is something I sometimes feel like I've forgotten how to do. And I find that the older I get, the more I appreciate lighthearted moments like these as I contemplate my coming adulthood.
It's fun to reminisce about past Christmases, but really, I'm glad to be in the present with the people I love the most. As long as we hold onto our love for each other, I know that being with my family can make anywhere feel like home for the holidays.