No Place Like Home Base On Christmas

I remember clearly the first time I didn’t make it “home” for Christmas. It was Christmas Eve, and it was snowing. Christmas snow is rare in Vancouver. I was happy, but my family was worried.

My uncle, a pilot, was set to take my cousins and I in his 6-seater twin engine plane, to the home on Vancouver Island where the rest of the family was gathering. All of us had divorced parents and had to split our Christmases between two or more families, which is why we would be the last to arrive and the first to leave. Everything had been sent ahead of us, including the presents.

The snow fell, piles and piles of it. I was happy, but my uncle was worried. “We won’t be able to fly if this keeps up,” he said.

“Christmas will be ruined!” My grandma exclaimed dramatically on the phone when he broke the news to her that we wouldn’t fly. “Isn’t there anything you can do?”

“I can’t make the snow stop falling, Mom,” he replied, exasperated. “I’m sorry.”

I have a secret. I pray for snow, even if it’s inconvenient. I celebrate snow, even when it ruins all the plans. I am an irrationally dedicated fan of snow, and I will take snow over anything. That night, secretly, deep in my heart, I decided that instead of being together with all the family, instead of sitting in front of a grand Christmas tree, instead of giving and opening loads of presents, I would rather it keep snowing.

And it did. My family was disappointed, but I was happy. My uncle, cousins and I went out for Chinese food, and went back to his un-decorated, Christmas tree-less, snow-covered log house in the forest. It was perfect.

I declared that we would have Christmas anyways, and set off in search of a Charlie Brown tree. There were plenty to choose from in my uncle’s backyard. I decorated the tree with random junk from my car – mardi gras beads, caution tape, miscellanous colourful nic-nacs. I found a gift for my uncle and each cousin to unwrap – who cares if it was a can of root beer, or a half-eaten box of cookies, or a dashboard decoration.

Gradually, my cousins cheered up. They thought it was silly, I think, but they made the best of it, and the snow continued to fall all night. Secretly, I celebrated this fortunate turn of events. And I learned for myself that the lack of presents, family gatherings, turkey, and being “home” doesn’t necessarily equate to a ruined Christmas.

This year, I won’t be home for Christmas. In fact, I haven’t been “home” for Christmas in years, and, as is a commonly discussed problem among perpetual travelers, I’m not even sure I know what “home” is anymore.

I don’t have a family “home” to return to. My mom’s house? I’d have to ask for directions to the bathroom. My dad’s house?” Beautiful, but I’ve never lived there either. The closest thing I have to “home” right now is the Japanese apartment I share with my husband and our 2-foot fake plastic Christmas tree. But we won’t be there for Christmas either.

As a traveler, I’ve learned to be content with “home base.” This Christmas, home base will be a hostel in Seoul, and while there will be no family (asides from my husband), no turkey (probably), and no presents (that I’m aware of), Christmas will still go on. And, if I get my wish, we might even see some snow.

Christmas Tree in Japan
Putting the star atop our humble Christmas tree.

Will you be home for Christmas this year (or for whichever holiday you celebrate)? Do you put up a Christmas tree at home, even if you’ll be away on Christmas? What does “home” mean to you?

26 thoughts on “No Place Like Home Base On Christmas

  1. This is the first year I’ve had a tree in ten years… though it’s technically at my boyfriend’s house, ha. Christmas has always been a sad time, but this year will be different.
    I love that you did the improvised Christmas– that is hilarious, so so hilarious and right up my alley! I too share a love of snow (even ice) just because I like that feeling of looming devastation, where everyone is freaking out and everything is falling apart and chaotic. I think this probably explains a lot 😉

    1. Hahaha wow there is so much about you in this comment! It’s a little late (I’ve been avoiding the internet since Christmas because video games get) but I hope you did manage to have a happy Christmas this year! Cheers!

    1. Yes! Me too, so much! I was on a trip over Christmas, and it snowed, which caused us to have to miss a stop on the tour we were on. But since I was so happy for the snow, I had to pretend to be disappointed about the cancellation so I didn’t look like a jerk! Irrationally happy! 🙂

  2. We are not having a traditional Christmas either. Our home is in the last stages of a renovation and we aren’t even doing a tree. I’m enjoying the pressure being off creating a picture perfect holiday. Enjoyed thinking about the snow falling outside.

    1. Sometimes it is nice to have a break, I guess. I took the tree down yesterday in all of 5 minutes, with just a few fallen plastic needles to collect afterwards. I am looking forward to having a real tree again in the future, though, but perhaps the absence of one will make it easier to appreciate having one again in the future!

  3. This was a really great post to read! As I’ve gone from being the little kid excited for Christmas magic to an adult, my family Christmas has also gone from a boisterous 11 to a quiet 5. It’s been a very different experience trying to get into the season (and I usually start listening to Christmas music in August or October), and this was a great reminder about making the holidays your own 🙂 so thank you for that.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! The Christmas experience definitely changes when you become an adult. It’s weird going from several different large family gatherings over a 2-3 day period, to… just two people. But both have their positives and negatives, I suppose, eh? Cheers!

  4. 2013, sixth year in a row, never been home for Christmas, oh what the heck, spent it anyway with friends who I call “family”….loved this article!

  5. Janelle what a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing. Happiness is a choice and your Uncle and I are so proud of the both of you for living your life in truth and happiness. 🙂 May you both have a wonderful Christmas together and a blessed 2014 year and may you receive lots of snow! xoxo

    1. Thank you!!! I’ll also never forget the year you guys made the oh-so-controversial decision to stay on the island for Christmas instead of lugging all the kids and stuff to the mainland as was expected of you (and you asked for my support via email). Haha! Love you guys, have a great Christmas this year! (*^o^*)

      1. O boy I remember that year as well. And what a wonderful Christmas we ended up having with our little new family. 🙂 Thanks for the support! Sometimes you just gotta do what is best for you! Like your wedding day! Best thing you ever did.

        1. Haha! Yeah I think I have a little bit of the grandma (both grandmas actually) “try to make everyone happy” in me which makes it hard to decide in favour of my own well-being – thankfully I have awesome people like you around to support me when I do! Thank you!

Share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.