It is so, so good to be home.
I caught an early flight out of Texas on Friday morning, just in time to see my first Texas sunrise, the dawn illuminated by a bright orange disc of sun just before takeoff. From College Station it was a hopscotch flight over to Houston followed by the long but swift flight north to Detroit. It’s still amazing to me that I can be in Texas at 7 AM and Detroit by 2 PM. I love that.
It was a little weird to leave Texas for ten days, having just moved there in early October. I was starting to feel at home in that huge Lone Star of a state, with its cowboy boots and fast-talking Texas twang. Texas has been pretty darn good to me so far, between the warmth and the okra and the kindness of its citizens, but it isn’t really home yet. When I think home, I think Evanston and my old apartment with its tree-lined streets and the soft rumble of the el train rolling in and out of the South Boulevard station. But home is also metropolitan Detroit in wintertime, bare tree branches against a cold blue sky and a fluffy white blanket of snow making everything look so crisp and pretty just in time for Christmas. Home is my niece’s voice calling, “Auntie Wo-Anne?” and my brothers keeping the coffee pot filled with fresh, strong, black coffee. It’s my sister-in-law knitting on the couch after her little one has gone to bed and my little sister getting ready for her marathon Christmas shopping excursion during which she buys all her presents in one daylong sweep of the stores. Home is my mom sighing with relief that she gets a few days away from her difficult teaching job and my dad talking everyone’s ears off at Christmas, a far cry from his normally taciturn mood.
I’m on vacation here in the Mitten State, but I’ve been very busy since I arrived. I’m busy reading stories and playing pretend games, drinking egg nog lattes and eating pizza. I’ve spent a few evenings with my niece snuggled between me and her mom for bedtime stories, Amanda’s soft, soothing voice telling us tales about the winter solstice and Babushka, who gives away all her gifts to needy people on her way to meet the new baby who was born in a manger, no crib for a bed.
The snow this year makes me happy and so does my family. I was feeling terribly anxious about this trip home, in part because the last time I left Michigan I had to prepare for an 1100-mile move that tested every last fiber of my resolve to set up shop in Texas. I made it, but it was rough going. But this time, the Mitten State feels different to me. It feels peaceful, like the strings of blue lights under which I sleep this week, or the sound of Silent Night sung by a single voice—mine—whenever the spirit moves me. It also feels rich and celebratory and altogether just right for Christmas. The house is permeated with the scent of cinnamon and everyone is in a good mood, even when we’re exhausted at 9 PM.
I haven’t been cooking much this week, just a dish of baked eggs here and a pot of oatmeal there. My sister-in-law and brother have been feeding me and everyone else in their house very well. I’m content to let other people feed me for a few days, especially when that feeding involves things like pecan pancakes and banana-pineapple shakes. It’s nice to take a little break from things to enjoy other people’s cooking and hospitality. Plus one of my favorite places in the world is standing next to Amanda at the kitchen counter with Lydia perched next to us, supervising our cooking. I hope we get more counter time this week!
I hope your holidays are as steeped in family and food as mine are and that you are catching a few winter sunbeams on these short days. I’ll be back next week, totally relaxed and ready to share a new recipe with you. Until then, peace and joy be with you.