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“Oh God, not already,” my mother says as I rifle through our sewing box. “I'm setting the table!”
I've been home for an hour. This is the drill, every time I come home. I hug my brother and run upstairs to take a shower. Once I'm dry and dressed, I sit in the living room and let my craft supplies spread out around me (like a mushroom colony, my dad says). Piles of paper, balls of yarn, needles and thread. It's the official sign that I'm back.
I've only been home for two days, but already, my things are strewn through the house and there are once again avocados in the fruit bowl. (I am my family's only somewhat-health nut.) I've been on a crafting spree: a knitting project, several hair bows and combs, and a paper family garland have all been finished since I got back. As happens every year, I hit home in full force.
Lots of other things are the same this Christmas. Like every year, my dad plays his medieval choral music. My brother does his homework and talks about birds and dinosaurs. My mother makes coffee for the family every morning. We all relish and resent the snow, and the cold gusts of wind that come along with it.
But some things are different, too. We are all a little older. My brother is 6 feet tall now, with a low voice that I sometimes mistake for my dad's on the phone. He is, as my dad says, “a dude,” not just the baby brother I grew up with. And for the first time ever, I am bringing a boy home for Christmas. Ken is spending the holidays with my family, which makes me feel like some character in a romantic comedy. One where the dad cries about his little girl growing up.
In part because Ken is coming, and in part because we like having something to believe in, my dad and I are determined to make this the Best Christmas Ever. My dad has been ordering and wrapping presents since literally the middle of November. I have been decorating the house with garlands and wreaths. Today's project is either spice cookies or a gold glitter banner for above the fireplace. Wish me luck!