At Christmas, All Roads Lead Home

This picture is of my childhood home. This beautiful century-old white farm house was my parents first home they purchased, bought in the early 70's. It sits on 20 acres of land including a pond stocked with lots of fish to catch, plenty of room for the cows to roam/eat grass and even a garden that supplies us with plenty of fresh veggies each year.  

When my younger sister and I were toddlers, we shared a room with my parents. I still remember exactly where the bunk bed was positioned across from my parents bed. We all shared a tiny bathroom and I still have visions of those flower shaped no-slip stickers stuck to the bottom of the tub when we took baths. We heated the house with an old wood stove in the corner of the dining area. In the winter when my mom would wake us up to get ready for the sitter's house, I would gather my clothes she had laid out for me and go sit in front of that stove to get warmed up before getting dressed. It's also the same stove mom would lay freshly made cinnamon rolls in front of so they could rise. 

On summer nights one of my favorite things to do was lay an old blanket on the sidewalk and watch the stars, trying to count the thousands of them that twinkled back at me. We also loved watching the bats that were trying to catch their dinner from the old mercury light that automatically came on at dusk. I can still feel the hard concrete beneath my back laying on that old blanket and teasing the bats by putting my hands in the air waving at them.

At Christmas time, my dad would usually go and find an old pine tree on the property and cut it down and we would decorate it with garland and and all the homemade ornaments we had made at school. Mom would tape all the Christmas cards we received in the mail from friends and family on the stairwell that led upstairs. Oh, and that dreaded plastic holly wreath she hung on the front door each year. I didn't even know wreaths were made out of anything BUT plastic for a very long time. Ha! 

Over the years, my dad, (a craftsman in his own right) built on to the old farmhouse. Floors were refinished, walls textured, a master bed and bath added. The one car garage was even turned into a massive four car man cave where we host holiday parties and old fashioned fish fry's even to this day. Those old hay fields are where I learned to drive a truck, a hay truck that is. I drove my cousins and dad around as they picked up what looked like massive square bales of hay, throwing them into the back of the pickup effortlessly. 

As I got into junior high, I needed my own space. I moved my room upstairs in a bedroom we used for storage. The two windows that overlooked my parents master bedroom suite became the perfect accomplices to the packs of cigarettes that I used to smoke at night when all were asleep. I always wanted to sneak out of those windows, but never had the balls to. It's where my high school sweetheart and future husband saw me walk down the steps for our first prom together. I will never forget the look on his face (or my parents) when they saw me in that red dress and lips to match. I was 15 years old and felt like Cinderella getting to go to the ball. 

The driveway was where we would make out in the car for as long as we could before I would need to get back inside before curfew. It's also where my parents surprised me with an Oldsmobile Cutlass for my sweet 16. It was as old as I was but I didn't care. It had t-tops and plenty of room to carry my friends that I would be picking up before and after school to cruise around the square. 

I remember the pictures they took of me on the front porch in my high school graduation gown, right before being proposed to before the ceremony. It was where we came to get changed after our fairy tale wedding before heading out on the long drive to our honeymoon cruise. Five years later, the backyard was turned into a beautiful outdoor wedding venue for my sister to be married to her fiance. The following year, my husband and I would introduce the first grandchild, our daughter, to the old farmhouse. And two years after that, it's where we would surprise everyone at our daughters 2nd birthday party that we were expecting again. 

No matter where we ended up living at, we would always come home for Christmas. One year I drove in from Oklahoma during a snow and ice storm. I remember praying that I made it safely because I had never missed a Christmas at home and I wasn't about to that year either. Twelve years later, the year my husband left us, I was thankful that I had that old farmhouse for me and my girls to come "home" to for Christmas.

Christmas at the farmhouse has changed slightly over the years. The fresh cut pine tree has been replaced with a pre-lit fake tree with shiny ornaments instead of the paper ones we made in school. The dreaded plastic wreath has been retired (I might have burned it) and the front door is now adorned with a beautiful wreath I made for my mother. There are five stockings hung on the stairwell in place of the Christmas cards, one for each grandchild they have ranging in ages 5-12. The wood stove is gone and so it seems are the days of mom making homemade cinnamon rolls (much to my disappointment). 

One thing that has not changed is the amount of love that I still feel when I start to drive down that long road. No matter what has happened in my life, the road that leads to that old farmhouse and the family inside it have been my rock, my foundation for which I live my life, for the past 38 years. 

I know some of you may not have a long gravel road to drive down to an old farmhouse this holiday. Some of you may not have family to celebrate with at all. From this single mom though, I pray that you will make a new road for your children to come home to when they're older. A road that when they start down, they will still feel the love that you share with them right now. Because at Christmas, all roads lead home. 

JLR