“Just like you left it, huh?” my dad says, popping in my room to say goodnight. He’s right. My room is eerily untouched since I left it 10 years ago to migrate south. Stacks of NSYNC CDs, pictures of all my old pets, prom dresses in the closet, fossilized corsages hanging from my bulletin board. It’s frozen in time, and outside is the same story.
My dad has this conspiracy theory that out of the entire state of Illinois, it is somehow (suspiciously) colder, snowier and icier at our house. Every time he picks me up at the airport he notes the temperature and then makes a grand announcement every time it drops one degree on the hour drive home.
I always tell people I’m from Chicago but that’s just because no one in North Carolina knows (or cares) where Woodstock is. Plus, Chicago just sounds cooler. I confess I’m not really from Chicago. I’m from a very small town just south of the Wisconsin border called Woodstock. It is the home of the Claussen Pickle Factory and the film set of Groundhog Day and really nothing else at all.
I carry equal amounts of love and hate for Woodstock, but Christmastime is all love.
I flew home today with my sister and her boyfriend, and even though we all spent the flight engrossed in our respective reading materials I did note that travel is significantly less miserable with other people. (I somehow almost always fly alone.)
Travel Note: If you’re a recovering Diet Coke addict like myself you’re probably well aware of the fact that the beverage cart on a flight is a trigger (second only to movie theaters, DEAR GOD). For sweet bubbles without fake sugar in flight, I go for sparkling water with a splash of cranberry juice. Yes, you do sound like a super asshole ordering it but it is totally good and worth it. Maybe put vodka in it.
We had a smooth trip despite ice on the ground in Chicago and made it home for the official start of the holiday season.
I love Charlotte and all, but there is no such thing as Christmas there, not for me anyway. I tried decking out my apartment but it just feels forced with its bargain box of Target crap I’ll probably throw away in a week. I prefer the tradition and ritual of pulling out the same (ugly) old Christmas crap year after year after year, and that really only happens at home.
There’s our old advent calendar where you move the little mouse to a different pocket each day until Christmas eve, our ancient and adored handmade stockings from mom, the dozens and dozens of hideous ornaments we made as kids. My mom puts it all out exactly the same way every year. Frozen in time, just like my room.
Oh and, in case you had any doubt, it is in fact colder and snowier and icier at our house. It dropped 10 degrees from the airport to the driveway. I argued that it was perhaps a result of moving from the city with lots of cars and asphalt and buildings retaining heat to the middle of the damn pitch-black nowhere. But my dad maintains that it’s god torturing him. He is probably right.