This is, to date, my all time favorite Christmas song. It brings me to my knees and makes me tear up. I remember when I was in college, I could never make it back home for Christmas because I couldn’t afford it, or I couldn’t chance driving home because of some God-awful snowstorm between me in Minneapolis and my Dad’s home in the Chicago suburbs.

When I signed on with my Airline twenty-two plus years ago, I knew damned well that I’d never make it home. If you’re way down on the seniority list at your Company as a Flight Attendant, your home at Christmas is where your suitcase is. I’ve spent most Christmas Holidays at 35,oo0 feet popping sodas and handing out hot towels. I’ve spent Christmas in San Antonio, Paris, Brussels, London, and most memorably, Chattanooga, Tennesee where I got to my hotel room at about ten at night and I had to get up at five to make the next flight to Nashville. I remember it because I recalled “A Charlie Brown Christmas” airing for the first time. That night in my shabby hotel room, I remembered when I was a nine year-old kid and heard Linus speaking such simple words. I’ve thought it was a most poignant way of explaining the simplicity of Christmas:

That Christmas Eve in Chattanooga, I pulled out the Bible thoughtfully provided by the Gideons, (Who are these people? They have been  in every hotel room I have bedded down in. They do get around…) and read the passage of the birth, the manger, the Three Kings,and the whole bit with the voice of Linus in my head. That was my Christmas celebration. But I gave up Christmas, one of my favorite times of the year for a life. A life that gave me the world. It was a trade-off.

It’s been quite a trip from when Santa used to come to the front door on Christmas Eve. That’s when I received the first edition “Barbie” (Mine had a black pony tail.):

…My  favorite toy, a “Pop-za-Ball!”

This was a favorite video I used to watch every year until they announced that the film was so old, that  showing was to be the last year it was to be played. Thank God for film restoration and for You Tube. You’ll all laugh, but this was charming when I was growing up and and the time, it was very high-tech. I still think it’s charming:

I never did get a Mr. Potato Head:

 

But in my early teen years, I got a “Kindness 20” Hot curler set. It rocked my waist length hair and I owned that thing for years:

But I moved on. I cut my hair for one thing…Actually, the Airline did it for me…

The video looks good and seems real glamorous, but the reality is more like this:

I made it home once for Christmas early in my Flight Career …For about seven hours. I missed the dinner, but the leftovers were great as my Dad made a plate for me. I made it back “home” for Christmas perhaps three times in the last thirty years. When I moved to New York, I found some odd jobs. This isn’t one of them:

I now live in Florida which puts an entirely different spin on what Christmas looks like:

You’re more likely to see this than snow men and ice castles. But I did manage to get a shot of the “Christmas Ducks!” I think about Christmas more in this way now:

Now things have changed.  I no longer have anyone to go “home” to, as most of my family is gone. My Parents passed away years ago, and the rest of the cousins and such are scattered hither, thither and yon. For a while, I felt bad about this; orphaned, forlorn and estranged.

But I have come to an understanding about “Christmas”, and about “Home” and about “Family.”  To me, Christmas is about getting the day off and flying a trip that day for someone who has kids. Christmas is about spending time with my friend Bill and eating great food and not having to turn on the Air Conditioner.

Christmas is sharing our Christmas dinner with Parker, Pepper, Nyla and Mattie.

Christmas is about making Holiday walnuts that are fattening, salty, sugary and delicious, and making them for everyone.

Christmas is understanding that your home is who you are closest to; birds, dogs, people…it doesn’t matter. What I have come to realize is that I no longer have to “Drive Home” for Christmas. Christmas is where I live. It’s where my friends and Family are. It is where I choose to have Christmas. For once; it’s not the journey; it’s the heart.

Christmas is sharing your life with those closest to you:

Parker….

 

Pepper…

Nyla…

Mattie..

My friend Bill has always been there for me when he can. He gives me a break some mornings by taking care of the birds, builds them toys and dotes on all of them, including Mattie. (No photo…he wouldn’t let me…)

My friend Nan has helped me out countless times:

Tamara and Jean have been there for me:

And although I don’t hear from her much, Leeann has been a sweetheart:

Beverly has been so good to me. She looks after Mattie when I fly to Bird Events, the Cincinnati Zoo; it doesn’t matter, she’s there for Mattie, (and me). Mattie adores her! I try and pay her back by making her vegetarian French onion soup and other dishes.


I cherish the memory of her dog Maisy:

And Shari’s Grey Iko:

Shari has been a rock. A total boulder. My touchstone…My friend.

Shari has taught me so much about Greys, about nutrition for birds and about the way things sometimes work in the World of Birds. We have a give-and-take friendship; we share stories, ideas, bird food recipes and brunch. She looks after the Greys when I go out on those “Adventures in the World of Birds,” looking after my birds as though they were her own:

My friends do this because they believe in me. And I appreciate that.

Christmas is not an event in the mall. It is a state of mind; It is an event of the heart. Christmas is a mix of memory and nostalgia, family and sentimentality. It is the distant, fragmented link to memories of long ago; of how we felt during this joyous season: When our ideas were straightforward, our lives were less complicated and our needs could be filled by a simple toy. It is inside every one of us. And this is what I believe keeps us young and happy to see yet another Christmas.

“Joyeux Noel” from all of us,

Parker, Pepper, Nyla, Mattie and Patricia

Ooh, and a  little more video from my Family to yours:



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