We awake this morning with another Christmas come and gone, the final week of the year staring us in the face. It's a good time to reflect, but for me the contemplation goes back much further than the past year.
My weekend trip made sure of that. "I'll be home for Christmas" is a nice refrain, but it's tougher for some of us than others. But when you get that chance, an opportunity to revisit your roots and spend time with loved ones, it means even more because it doesn't happen very often.
I spent the weekend at my grandmother's house in central Illinois, a place I've visited since I began to walk. There's something about going back to a place you've frequented for nearly 40 years that brings a smile along with all the memories.
It's a certain kind of smile, one that only comes when you're at your most comfortable. That feeling is pervasive when you're at a place you know so well. That comfort leads to reflection.
It comes not only in furniture and fixtures you've known since you were a child, but smells and sounds as well. At my grandma's house, there is always a pot of coffee ready to go, morning, noon or night, and it never tastes better than when you drink it at the kitchen table, which has hosted more late-night discussions and afternoon games of dominos than you can count.
There's always the smell of food. Good food. Food you'd pay a pretty penny for if you weren't getting all those giant helpings for free.
Then there are the sounds, both of Grandma's house and of a small town. The chimes of her anniversary clock and the rumblings of her central heat are constants, like old friends. The late-night wail of the train cutting through town gives me a sense of peace I don't think I've ever felt anywhere else.
It makes sense that I'd feel so at home there. I was 2 there. I was 5 there. I was 12 there, and I was 16 there. This past weekend, I was 38 there. I've changed between those visits, but it never does.
It's kind of like a museum, only with a comfortable rollaway and chocolate pudding dessert.
So as I head home today, I'm thankful for this Christmas, all those visits past, and the memories that go with them.
Todd Cline can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Tuesdays.
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