Back in the spring of this year, my parents decided to move closer to my sister and her family, for a multitude of reasons. Which meant that last year was the last Christmas I spent in my childhood home. It was bittersweet for me – I’ve been lucky enough to have a close and loving family, so that house represented more than just a place to sleep. It was where I prepared for my wedding, and where I first told my parents I was pregnant with my son. I brought my college boyfriend home to meet my parents because he was the one and I knew it, and I wanted them to like him. (They did.) In that house I studied for tests, glued projects together, did homework at the dining room table. I cried over mean things other students at high school said to me and worried in the middle of the night that the sound I heard outside my window was a monster instead of the elephant ears brushing the wall outside my window. I learned which sounds were from the mortar range and which were airplanes performing touch-and-go’s (Military people know what I’m talking about.) I learned how to open certain locked doors without keys, because my little sister would lock herself in her room and commit mischief if we didn’t get her out. I watched “Captain Blood” and “Poldark” and “Monty Python” on my little black&white television in that house. That house was full of memories and traditions.
Now we’re headed to my parents’ new house. It’s going to be different, and I admit I’m a little sad about it. There’s something comforting about always knowing that at least one thing in your life will always be the same. Now that it’s gone, we have a chance to create new traditions, but it also reminds me that one of these holidays I won’t be going home again. One of these years, I’ll spend Christmas in my own house, maybe with my own grandchildren around me, screeching and throwing wrapping paper and eating too many cookies. That’s okay, because as I mentioned last year, all things end, and begin again anew.
So as I prepare to see those I love most, and make new traditions in a new home, I want to tell you that I wish each and every one of you joy, safety, warmth and peace. I pray all of you have enough to eat, and someone to call a friend. I hope you spill thousands of perfect words onto your pages, and that an agent or editor reads those words and nearly trips over her own feet to call you with good news. Whether you celebrate the same holiday I do or a different one (or none at all), I wish you every good thing that life can bring your way. Most of all, I hope that when you’re faced with a big life change, even if it’s terrifying, that you approach it with courage. Fortune favors the brave, as the poet said. Be bold. Be strong. And don’t forget that we’re all in this together.