Home is not a place — it’s a feeling

Merry Christmas eve! This morning I’m sitting on the couch, enjoying a cup of hot tea and some moments of silence while Ruby sleeps, hopefully dreaming of sugar plums, presents, and the mystery of Santa Claus.

Christmas eve has always been my family’s most important holiday. We all gather that evening for a delicious meal and we open presents for hours, taking time to savor each special gift received. It didn’t matter what was going on in our lives, Mandy and I always found a way to make it home for Christmas eve, sometimes driving through crazy Minnesota snowstorms with my mom pacing in front of the window waiting to see our headlights. It was so important that we were all home together.

The year Ruby was born, our tradition of coming home was disrupted for the first time. Ruby was still in the NICU in Minneapolis and my parents lived 100 miles away in Albert Lea. That year, my family came to Ruby and me.

There was a rule in the NICU that only two people could be at a baby’s bedside at a time, but the nurses broke it for us that day so that we could all be together with Ruby. It was the first time since she was born that we were all in the same room and it was wonderful. When we left the NICU, I was sad to leave Ruby behind, but I was full of gratitude for her life and my family’s unending support.

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Christmas Eve, 2004

That night, we had dinner and opened presents in my tiny one-bedroom apartment, and I realized for the first time that home is not a specific place, but rather a feeling that you have when you’re with the people you love the most.

I hope you all get to go “home” this Christmas season.

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