We’re travelling home from Christmas in Connecticut today — and have stopped our journey in Gettysburg. It’s funny how holidays with family are so wildly different from year to year and yet evoke nostalgia for those past Christmases spent doing the same things with the same people.

I look at the nieces and nephews tall and independent, and remember them as babes younger than my own girls. I drive the streets of the little town in my head, surprised that the reality so nearly matches. The stories of stews, children and cats were all the same. The menu would have delighted dear old Fezziwig — warm and hearty, full of the richness of the season, pleasing omnivores and those more picky equally. Speaking of herbivores, the deer gingerly picking its way into the snowy woods was new, as was the snow itself. It added a veneer that cloaked the week with some sort of Currier & Ives gloss.

Funny how a white Christmas in a New England state can conjure mild southern mornings and nights of eager anticipation as Santa shed his coat travelling through NC. The scent of fat oranges, juice sucked through Red Bird candy canes, the sound of the ivy tapping against the chimney that long Christmas eve (it had to be reindeer hooves), and the stories — do they stay the same everywhere?

English-Italian poet, Christina Rossetti captured these wisps of memory. Best known for her poem, The Goblin Market or the Christmas poem turned carol, In the Bleak Midwinter, she was perhaps one of the more influential poets of the mid-Victorian era. As a member of the Pre-Raphaelites, both her work and her look served as models for visual artists including Dante Rossetti, William Hunt & John Millais.

Those moments, so common, yet they tie us to each other memory by memory. Is it any wonder, that Hallmark, AT&T and just about everyone’s ads cause tears at this time of year?

bob, the snowman

Monna Innominata [I wish I could remember] by Christina Rossetti
I wish I could remember that first day,
First hour, first moment of your meeting me,
If bright or dim the season, it might be
Summer or Winter for aught I can say;
So unrecorded did it slip away,
So blind was I to see and to foresee,
So dull to mark the budding of my tree
That would not blossom for many a May.
If only I could recollect it, such
A day of days! I let it come and go
As traceless as a thaw of bygone snow;
It seemed to mean so little, meant so much;
If only now I could recall that touch,
First touch of hand in hand—Did one but know!

family time: Kisses Sweeter than Wine (Bonnie Raitt & Jackson Browne — 2 masters play this song like a game); Feel Like Going Home (Notting Hillbillies — the most awesome jam band); Simple Gifts (for a gorgeous rendition listen to the 5 Browns cover of the Copeland variations, for the pure joy of the music check out Judy Collins); We are Family (Sister Sledge); Sentimental Journey (Doris Day, Renee Olstead, frogs — anyone could sing this and I would quiver); Que Sera, Sera (Sly & the Family Stone, I know the classic is Doris Day, but check out Sly’s take); Home (the Grascals — kick butt bluegrass); I want to Walk you Home (Paul McCartney & Allen Toussaint); Long Walk Home (Bruce Springsteen — listen, not look); Coming Home (Lizz Wright — have you heard her voice yet?); Loves me Like a Rock (Allison Krauss & Union Station — great version); Sunny Came Home (Shawn Colvin — the song is so dark, but her voice); Back Home again in Indiana (Nat King Cole); Darling Be Home Soon (Jules Shear — cover of the ’60s song by John Sebastian); I’ll Go Home with Bonnie Jean (from Brigadoon — love this musical!); My Little Town (Paul Simon — this just drives me down the streets of home); Family Man (Fleetwood Mac); Someone to Come Home to (Animal Logic — Stewart Copeland, Deborah Holland & Stanley Jordan; they only released 2 albums but wow!!); Raised Up Family (James Taylor — he sings punctuation for life stories); Come on Get Happy (Daddy a Go Go — remember the Partridge family, this is a great cover); and Blue Ridge Cabin Home (Grisman, Hartford & Seeger — what an awesome combination of talent, makes a simple song just shine)

I may not know who I am, but I know where I’m from –> Wallace Stegner

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