Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home ~ Matsuo Basho
When BOFA looked at me in mid-November during a wet, cold West Coast afternoon, the sky was so dark and dreary that the mountains were nowhere to be seen, and asked if I wanted to go to visit his family at Christmas, he already knew my answer would be “hell yeah!” A cursory glance at Google Flights confirmed that the flights, during the holidays, would be twice as much as usual and would have us see 5 different airports during our travels. But my desire to see his family and leave the rain soaked City was stronger than saving a few dollars, so we pushed the confirm button and popped a bottle of prosecco to toast our first trip together that involved air travel.
As always, the lead up to the holidays was busy. Our days were filled with work, but our evenings filled with Christmas gatherings, mulling wine and apple cider, trips to the Christmas Market and buying small gifts we could fit in our suitcases to make the holidays fun and special. The day before our flight we packed up our bags, stuffing in the final gifts bought and realizing that we got a little carried away.
Bright and early on Sunday morning we got up excited about that days travel, despite the long day, we were both excited to be leaving on an adventure and to be with family for the holidays. After two flights, we arrived at the final airport and picked up our rental car in preparation for a three hour road trip. Along the way we stopped at a rural Walmart, just before they closed, and stocked up on necessary supplies for the next four days. Our epic day of travel ended with a treacherous drive through windy farm roads in the black of night, our path lit by a full, bright white moon. The moonlight shining directly down on us so that I had to lean forward and look up to see the massive moon following us, and our journey. The final few miles was spent navigating the driveway and the ascent up to the log cabin that sat on 20 acres of land, filled with trees and valleys. It was pitch black, only our headlights bouncing off of the thick wall of trees, so thick not even the moon could weave its bright light through. At the summit of a particularly steep hill, I looked to my right, there was a parting of the trees and I was looking at a vast valley, filled with trees and tall, flowering grass; flanked by rolling hills, the full moon illuminating the view as though it were a spotlight. At that moment, I understood.
We arrived at two in the morning on Christmas Eve. BOFA and I both exhausted from twelve hours of traveling. At the end of the long drive we arrived at The Fort. Two weary travelers arriving in time for Christmas. The booming voice of BOFAs youngest brother, “welcome to Oklahoma!” gave us the energy we needed to carry in our luggage and parcels. The Fort smelled delightful, rosemary and wood fire and vanilla, all blended together. Candles flickered in time with the wood stove and the soft lights bounced off of the wood walls, bringing out the green of the kitchen. The Christmas tree was glowing in the corner. We had arrived.
After a late night, or rather, early morning arrival and the required hugs and kisses, it was no surprise that we all slept in the following day. Almost all of us. When BOFA and I awoke and managed to make our way downstairs to sit by the wood fire and sip hot, fresh coffee, the kitchen smelled of freshly baking bread. A quick peek through the door of the oven revealed two fresh loaves of sourdough. Although he had returned to squeeze out a few more hours of sleep, BOFA’s younger brother had been hard at work that morning and the results made my mouth water. After the coffee was drunk and brunch was consumed, BOFA toured me around The Fort. The log cabin was large, with two floors and an expansive footprint. It was also in various stages of being built, finished and complete. The large logs comprising the walls were a golden brown, smooth to the touch and well worn in some areas, as though many hands had caressed those particular logs. His mom ,who has a crafty nature and talent, has made her living from creating things with her hands, and as such, has a large work room full of paints and fabrics and odds and ends. A room so full of treasures, both obvious and hidden, that I could have spent the entire day exploring and poking about. However, the Christmas Tree still required decorating as the lights twinkling on the tree needed ornaments to bounce off. As we decorated the tree and found old ornaments, stories were told about when they were acquired and what the family looked like and was doing at that time. The stories of Christmas Past and of BOFA’s childhood grabbed my full attention and I listened avidly for the details of his youth.
On Christmas morning we gathered around that tree once more to celebrate Christmas Present. We drank more fresh coffee and ate more fresh bread. We opened gifts and laughed and listened to Christmas carols on the radio. Ok it was a Google Home streaming device, but I didn’t want to ruin the nostalgic feel. If this story sounds reminiscent of days gone by, it was. And it was truly that magical, sitting in my Canadian plaid onesie, sipping hot peppermint tea by the woodstove. In my imagination, my Christmas Futures will be this heartwarming as I rediscover the spirit of the season and the coming together of individuals, family.
A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body ~ Benjamin Franklin