Home for Christmas

“…When I get home, I'm getting a CAT scan!...”

 The room grows dark and as the credits roll, I sit up off the couch and tip toe up the stairs and around the corner. Sleepy eyes reignited by the lights from the banister that glimmer down the hall, casting shadows of cozy sock feet.

 The faint smell of balsam, cinnamon, and Christmas cookie candles swirls from the kitchen toward the ceiling, just another part of the magic left hanging in the air.

 My sheets are cold and blinds left open just a sliver, wide enough to let in the moonlight and the memories of Rudolph’s journey down Twelve Oaks.

 I drift to sleep and travel back in time to whispers at 6 am, peeking into the darkness.

“Have you gone downstairs yet?” A grin so big you can hear it as I poke my head into my brother’s room. We walk softly but not quite, too excited for everyday footsteps.

Mark in his hoodie, Lindy in pajama pants and fuzzy socks, hair still curled from the night before. Downstairs Ashley sleeps, bright blue walls turned midnight.

We glide across the hardwood and catch a glimpse of what we’ve been waiting for.

 A cheerful round tree twinkles in red, green, and gold surrounded by presents wrapped with snowflakes and candy canes, sticky bows and bright ribbons, tissue paper tucked under branches and name tags for everyone in the bunch.

“Wooooowwww”

 We look around in awe. Stockings stuffed to the brim, barely hanging on to golden snowman hooks. Packed with Andes Mints and chocolate covered cherries, orange tic-tacs, mouth wash, Chapstick and socks.

 The yellow chair and green couches from the night before have been transformed with presents, each meticulously placed. Nike shoes and socks, a basketball, a camera, boots, sweaters, pea coats, lotion, play station games, DVDs and perfume.

 Each kid gets their own moment.

 “I love this.”
“That’s the sweater you asked for!”
“Aw cool, Mark!”
“That’s so cute!”

So cozy, so familiar. Not that long but so many years away.

 Warm hugs, pictures, a click of the camera. Rocky in a Santa Hat, Amy Grant and breakfast casserole. Grandparent hugs around the neck and hot apple cider. Teddy bear nightgowns and American Girls. Walkmans, tapes, and Star Wars. Feet curled up under us as we snuggle up for yet another viewing of Ralphie and his Red Ryder. Neighbors running down the street, barefoot and plaid pants. Robes and bedhead.

 Smiles and tree lights left on for hours.

I turn over in bed as my phone buzzes and Christmas greets me with bright morning light.

“Merry Christmas my twin!”  

 Another year surrounded by the best. This time a little older, with a growing family around the tree. Wedding bands and babies, loss patched up and healed by little hands and new additions. Milestones met, and traditions kept.

 But still so merry, and just as bright. “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!”