This is sponsored content from BlogHer and Folgers.We live in Dallas, Texas, home to the Rangers, the Cowboys and currently, 80 plus degree weather heading into November. I'm not from here; I actually grew up in southern Ontario, near the border with Buffalo, New York. Y'all has finally slipped into my vocabulary, but I'm still protesting the use of "fixin' to". I'm not much of a cowboy hat or boot sort of person, and my kids actually cheer "Let's go Buffalo" even at Dallas sporting events. I have discovered that 80 degree weather and sunshine through November isn't a bad thing, I certainly don't mind wearing jeans and a t-shirt outdoors in January, and Dallas has some amazing barbecue. But in the long run, it really isn't home in a true sense, my family isn't here.
And that is where our Christmas story begins each year--when we pack up our kids, and presents, and passports, and the ski jackets that I have to drive all over Dallas to find, to head north and go home.
We spend our Christmas vacation at my mom and dad's, in the same house I grew up in. The kids share what used to be my bedroom as a child and my husband & I take over my brother's old room. We settle in and I watch.
I watch as my kids help my mom make the same traditional Christmas cookies that my brother & I helped my grandma make 25 years ago. They use my great-grandmother's big wooden spoon and rolling pin, and the big mixing bowl that is the perfect size to hold a dozen-dozen of our favorite cookies, just like Scott & I used to. And we joke and laugh, how my grandmother would insist on dying the icing green and red, even though the red was pink and she was the only one who liked the colored icing whereas the rest of us liked white icing and sprinkles. Or how she would make oatmeal cookies with candied fruitcake fruits in them, even though candied fruitcake fruits are not good in fruitcake, much less oatmeal cookies.
I watch as Ben insists on heading outside with my dad because he wants to help shovel the snow and run the snow blower, because the snow blower is just amazing to 4 year old little boys who live where it doesn't really snow. And I watch as both kids run and jump and play in the snow and dive off the back deck and throw snowballs at each other, just like we did, in that very same yard, 25 years ago. And I watch as my southern husband marvels at the idea of a white Christmas, except for the year he wished for one and we got 7 feet of snow in 24 hours. And I watch my kids learn to ski on the same hills I learned to ski on, as they hold our hands and our poles as we guide them down the mountains again and again and again.
I watch Faith decorate the trees with my mom and insist that she'll put the ornaments up her way, because she has to balance them just so and really doesn't want anyone else helping out with that part, just like I did (and probably still do). And I watch as they take out decorations that I remember as a kid being out in the house, and decorations that were my grandma's, and the Santa that my grandpa loved that lit up and moved and rang his bell, and the Nativity scene and Christmas village that my dad, Scott and I got my mom pieces of each year.
I watch, on Christmas Eve, as we carry on, the same way we did as kids with my grandparents, having Christmas Eve dinner first, then opening gifts from the extended family, and the kids stay up too late and eat too many cookies instead of food and it's all OK.
I watch as they put on jammies and jackets and boots and head outside to sprinkle magic dust on the front lawn so that Santa can find the house, and they leave cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer, then head off to bed, only to wake up exceptionally early.
I watch, on Christmas morning, as they run down the same stairs that Scott & I ran down to see what Santa brought, and the gifts stretch across the side of the living room as they take it all in. And we have coffee and cookies and open presents and they get more and more excited with every new toy and book they open. And my dad and my husband spend hours putting together new toys because the kids want them all at once. And everyone who walks in the door has to come see all the awesome new toys and try the awesome new games with them.
And I watch, as we sit down to Christmas dinner, with our family and good friends who are family too, and my kids talk and laugh and share, and are spoiled by everyone because they are the only grandkids, niece & nephew, etc, and we have turkey and ham, and tons of cookies, and Ben insists on deviled eggs which my SIL brings just for him and orange potatoes which my mom's friend makes for him, and Faith wants cheesy peas which the same friend makes for her. And we eat and talk and have coffee and cookies and relax and play with the kids. Then we bundle the kids up in their jackets and boots and they light sparklers in the cold December darkness and draw in the air with them, before they head to bed, exhausted from their holiday.
A friend of mine, another Dallas transplant, once said that she was adamant that her kids wake up in their own beds in their own house on Christmas morning. I'm not. There is a certain allure to waking up in my own house, in my own bed, but the trade-off, the family, the memories old and new? It's not worth being stubborn about being in my house. I'd rather be home.
Wouldn’t you like to wake up at home for the holidays? (I would, and am, we’ll be back in Canada, of course!) Folgers is giving 5 people the chance to wake up at home with family and friends. Just visit Folger's and answer the question “What’s the best part of wakin’ up at home for the holidays with Folger’s coffee?” In 200 words or less, tell them why and you could be one of five winners who gets to go home for the holidays! (May I add that coffee and homemade Christmas cookies are also on my list of reasons?) Entries are accepted through November 30, 2010 at noon, so be sure to visit and enter.
Visit Folger's to for your chance to enter the essay contest and head home!
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