I am a twenty-year old college student who very much loves my school in Wilmington, North Carolina. I have friends who make me laugh, roommates who are kind, classes I (mostly) do not dread, and a dishwasher that actually works.
That said, I never miss my family more than I do when the first wave of the holiday season hits—and am never more excitied to visit home than I am when a holiday is right around the corner.
The worst homesickness begins with Halloween, and has done so since my freshman year. My mother (brave domestic engineer that she is), spends an entire day, every single year, turning our yard—the yard in my hometown—into a spooky, imaginative world to delight and scare children (but scare only a very little bit). My siblings and I were her helpers on this day—fetching lights or rakes or chicken salad and lemonade. We loved this task, and my brother and sister who are still at home, continue to love this task. It means an entire day breathing in the chilly air and laughing with the family and playing with the neighborhood dogs.
Growing up, I could not decide if the jack-o-lanterns were my favorite aspect of our decorated yard, or the giant web my mother laced together out of black rope and glitter spray paint—big jewels hot glued on to each connecting knot.
I spend my Halloweens a lot differently now. It is fun in a different way, but wholly less fulfilling. I miss setting up for Halloween, and miss my family all the more the entire month between Halloween and Thanksgiving.
For Thanksgiving, our decoration is simpler: an outstanding wreath of autumn leafs on the front door, a large sunset colored bow on the bottom—setting off the leaf’s ruby tones. It requires significantly less man power to put up, which allows for more time spent in the kitchen. Because my school lets out the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I get to be there for these rituals. My sister and I have made one dish a piece from the time we were old enough to know not to touch the hot stove. My mother cooks the rest while we, the rest of my family, watch the parade on the couch.
Then it’s back to school for finals—intense and terrifying—before taking the three week long break between school semesters. This long break lets me be home for my favorite part of the entire year: Christmas, and eventually, New Years. Preparation involves, but is not limited to: ginger-bread houses, baking, cross-stitching Christmas rhymes, visiting relatives, ornamenting the tree, egg-nog, gifts (of course), and decorating the yard with enough lights that from space it must appear like a second, more colorful, sky on Earth. Like with Halloween, it is our yard which is my favorite.
It would have never occurred to a younger me that I’d miss being away from home so much. In school, I have my own curfew, procrastinate on my laundry without being scolded, and occasionally eat pie for breakfast—which is, for the most part, a wonderful way to live. It is during the cold holidays, however, that I start counting the days until break, when the holiday preparations begin in my house, and I’m back where I belong. There’s a lot to be said about preparing for the holidays because even the time spent decorating can be as special as all the celebrating to come after the halls are decked.