Amidst the season of listmaking, my list

My favorite Christmas carol is still "Carol of the Bells."

I still have no memories of a white Christmas. Looks like this year won't be the year I get to make those memories. Perhaps another year.

I'm getting better, but am still scatterbrained at heart. I walked into the laundry room to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer, and was quite amused when I realized that I was absentmindedly trying to put the clothes into the pantry (which is right next to the dryer). There was quite a bemused look on my face as I compared wet jeans to cans of soup…Not much left to do at this point. We'll leave straight from work tomorrow evening; that will put us arriving in Arkansas at around 1 a.m. on Saturday morning.

Arkansas. Home. Not home.

The source of many memories. A place where I can drive on an interstate and know the names of the towns, the kinds of places they are, why someone might visit there. Whether the local high schools have good football teams.

Where, somewhere in a tiny village in the middle of a rural county practically owned by International Paper, is a three-bedroom house with an eleven-year-old black cat. On the walls are pictures of me from the date of my birth to the date of my wedding nearly three years ago.

My mother will have her entire Snow Village set up in the dining room; and Christmas trees in the living room, piano room, and all three bedrooms.

I will see what my father looks like after his surgery. I will meet Carl, my new brother-in-law. I will hug my grandmother. I think I will suggest to Mom that Mamaw's Christmas present be a plane ticket to visit any family member she wants to see.

Deep inside I am nervous. I always am when I go home. I know that everything about me will be scrutinized, absorbed, remembered. Am I growing my hair out again? Have I changed the style of my glasses? Do I still wear the rattiest, most threadbare socks known to man?

My reserve frustrates them. I do not mean for it to, but ever since I first moved away, it's been difficult to pry bits and pieces out of my life to hand to them and say, See? This is me now…

But I must find a way to try.

So, let me offer you this, amidst the season of listmaking and exchanging of goodwill and blessings—my list. Call it my Christmas list of presents already received. It is a list whose entries follow the same format: they begin with a name and they end with love. Because, in the end, that is what we ask for from those we spend our lives with—love and acceptance of the imperfect, impudent, imprudent beings we are.

  • Jeff…for the look of contentment that steals across your face in quiet, unguarded moments. For me being able to say, "Surprise me!" when you bring dinner home from a restaurant, because I know that you know me well enough to know my likes and dislikes.
  • Tenzing and Edmund…who are physically refusing to leave me alone long enough to write this list. I get the hint, boys. Here's your mention. :)
  • Joy and Andrew…whose choices in life remind me on a daily basis that life is too short not to do the things you truly want to do. Even if they seem impractical. The two of them always seem to find a way to make things work, and it never ceases to inspire me.
  • Brad…one of the few people I have known in this life who I can ask, "Am I being a brat?" and know that I will get an honest answer, even when it's not what I want to hear.
  • April…who reminds me by the way that she conducts her life that life doesn't stop after marriage and motherhood. And who, by the way, would be the only person I know that could carry off electric pink hair.
  • Cathy…someone whose courage to be different in Alabama, land of utter conservative conformity, reminds me that personal bravery and conviction aren't lost arts.
  • Andy…because someone who offered me unconditional friendship and trust when I absolutely needed it most is learning what it's like to have that returned to him. When you read in a story that the Grinch's heart grew three sizes in one day, it's sweet—but when you get to see it truly happen to someone you care so much about, it can move your heart to awed and observant silence.
  • My father…because in the next 48 hours I have a chance to go home and put some things right between us—something I should've had the courage and maturity to do a long time ago. In life, we don't always get a second chance, and I realize that I'm getting one with you.
  • Wondergeeken et al…for saying, very simply, some of the most magical words in the world: "You are one of us now." The wish for inclusion is one of the most deep-seated wishes in the human psyche.

Here's to life. Here's to love. Here's to each and every one of you, listed and not, an admittedly-sappy list from a sentimental heart.

Be well, wherever each of you are. Back soon.