Home, Sweet Home

A 1972 Christmas gift from Mel's sister Mary

We met halfway in Grand Traverse Pie Company on Thursday, Cherie’s day off from the Orion Township Library. We’d skipped our annual reunion here at the farm the past two summers and determined to reconnect before 2017 blew in. One of my former poetry tribe, I had asked Cherie to bring one of her poems to read. I missed her voice.
            She was her same beautiful self—more gray strands in her long, wavy hair. We swapped whereabouts of my two girls and grandson and her two boys and three grandkids.  
            “The little ones keep me busy. I’m glad they live close by,” she said.
We talked about our Christmas plans. Since my California family flew in for my husband’s 70th and baby’s 40th birthday in November, my daughter and son-in-law need some serious R&R during Christmas vacation. There will be no orbit of departure for family gatherings and return to California after Christmas Day.
And for the Underwood patriarch and matriarch, it’s farm sweet farm December 25— unless our youngest and her husband decide to host. Their new house would be a cozy change in this cold snap. They’ve a fine fireplace. We don’t.
Cherie, on the other hand, is hosting a multitude for Christmas dinner. “I love it,” she said.
True. She mirrors my mother’s hospitality—the more the merrier, particularly Christmas dinner. In her Kentucky home one Christmas Eve, Mom bed and breakfasted her twenty-one offspring, five sons-in-law, and a granddaughter’s fiancĂ©. I imagine Cherie’s lovely house much like that, all lit up and bursting at the seams.
After we had our fill of food and friendship, we pulled on our coats. I almost forgot to ask. “Cher, did you bring a poem to read?”
She smiled because she knows I adore her poetry. “No, there’s just too much going on with the kids and work to think about writing. I’m not complaining, for we’re all in a good place right now. Everyone’s healthy and content.”
We hugged and promised to meet again come summer. Her words settled into my mind while I drove to the grocery store. They hovered over me like a halo through the aisles and checkout and drive home.
“We’re in a good place right now” echoed like a prayer while I put away groceries, practiced my dulcimer, and watched a video of my grandson acting in his first school play. His laugh was like good medicine.
He’s in a good place right now and too young to know it, I mused. This is consolation between the vast gap in space and time between us.
This place where my husband and I stand is also good, for it is our home, a shelter from storms and misunderstandings. As Cherie and her husband, this is what we have worked for and have maintained with our entire mind and might.

Dear Reader, wherever you find yourself Christmas Day, I pray you are in a good place, your home sweet home, or another’s. Preferably, before a blazing fire.