Home for Christmas – or not?

  • Thu Dec 22nd, 2005 9:00pm
  • News

By Kristi O’Harran / Herald Columnist

Let’s face it, with the potential for excessive hubbub the next few days, car trips on icy roads, fruit cake, ugly neckties and relatives you really don’t want to see, maybe you would rather be any place but home for the holidays.

I asked readers that very question. If you could be any place else at Christmas, where would you like to be? Many still preferred the hearth at home, but some were ready, in their dreams, to get out of town.

Carol McCrorie, 56, of Marysville had a warm idea.

“I’d rather be some place sunny and warm for Christmas,” McCrorie said. “Greece, and the wonderful islands around the area.”

A few years ago, Linda Averill, 57, was in a warm spot at holiday time.

“My sister and I told our husbands we were going Christmas shopping, and we did – to Florida,” Averill said. “It was wonderful, warm and sunny. We just happened to stop by Disney World, Key West and a few other places for presents. We just barely made it home on Christmas Eve.”

But if Averill could choose a place, it wouldn’t be a where, it would be a when.

“About 45 years ago, my grandmother was alive and had a home in north Everett that had a huge kitchen. Just before Christmas, she would have the ‘ladies of the family’ over (daughter, daughter-in-law and three granddaughters), and we would all help make different kinds of candy. Aunt Dawn had a recipe for divinity that Mom still talks about. Mom always made peanut-butter fudge. And someone made sure there was a batch of rocky road, as that is what we kids favored.”

She said she’d almost forgotten that sweet memory.

It wouldn’t be warm, but John Holp, 58, dreams of an Ohio Christmas.

“I am happy being home in Stanwood with my wife and our youngest son’s family,” Holp said. “The only thing that would make it better would be two things. First, having our eldest son and his family here from Wyoming. Second, to have them all in Ohio for Christmas, so that Great-Grandma and Grandpa could spend time with the four grandchildren they have not met. This would be my Christmas wish; but I would settle for our eldest to succeed with his post-grad work.”

Snow would please Lori Burke, 18, who will be home in Arlington.

“I have never had a white Christmas before, and can only imagine what it would be like,” Burke said. “Preferably not in Washington, though. I would rather it be somewhere I have never been before. Just a surprise place where everything would be new and special in it’s own way.”

Shirley Esther Small of Everett said that as a young woman, her sister, Mary Ann Small, was a missionary in Brazil. There she met a young English missionary, Alex Straton Campbell, married him and had seven children.

“They have all married, bringing us a wonderful Brazilian family,” Shirley Small said. “Though my sister passed away as a result of an accident, she has left us an extended family of joy.”

Seeing Brazilian relatives would be her dream trip, Small said.

The Hawley family will be home in Edmonds, said Fred Hawley, 69, including three children and their families.

“It would be nice to have the fourth kid and family here also, but they live in South Dakota and won’t be able to make it,” Hawley said. “Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.”

The dream idea swept Carolyn Eslick, 55, of Sultan back to age 6. If she could be anywhere, she said she would want to be at her grandmother’s house in Oregon overlooking the Columbia River Gorge.

“Every Christmas Eve, my parents drove half a mile up the hill with all eight kids to have dinner with my grandmother, my spinster aunt and single uncle, while my parents returned home to prepare for Christmas,” Eslick said. “We would wait, it seemed for hours, while my Uncle Alex would milk the cows, to have our annual potato soup dinner.

“As I look back on it, my parents performed a miracle,” Eslick said. “The makeover of our home from the time we left at 4 p.m. until we arrived back at 9 p.m., was amazing.”

Given her druthers, Lisa Mandt, 25, of Bothell could see herself with her family in the Bahamas for Christmas.

“For me, holidays aren’t the same unless I get to spend them with my family, which is why I have always stayed home for Christmas,” Mandt said. “But if I could spend the holidays with my entire family in the Bahamas, I would rather do that. I am not much of a snowboarder or skier, so the warm, sunny weather is really appealing to me.”

Bring on family at home, said Emily Simpson, 16, of Edmonds.

“I never get to see my brothers anymore, and these holidays are sometimes the only time I get to be with them,” she said. “I think the holidays are about happiness, and the place where I am most happy is with my family.”

You want to be where people care about you, said Bill Brayer, 72, of Edmonds.

“Since my parents and all my bothers and sisters are deceased, I can think of no place better I would rather be than here in Edmonds, celebrating with our five married children and our 10 grandchildren,” Brayer said. “As the saying or song goes, ‘There is no place like home for the holidays.’ Being where we are, we can also help other lonely people have some joy and peace in their lives.”

Her dreams include a cozy fireplace, said Rebecca Wolfe of Edmonds. Give her a chalet in the French Alps with her husband and children.

“The chalet would have a good supply of firewood, several pairs of cross-country skis and separate rooms where each of our children could be with their spouses and children,” Wolfe said.

“It would be especially wonderful if we were near a really good French restaurant (is there a bad one?) so that we could take the noonday meal together, a meal prepared by someone else, with no dishes to clear away and clean. It would be perfect to end this holiday in Paris on our anniversary Jan. 1, enjoying some of the many extraordinary musical programs there and visiting longtime friends from my years as a teacher of French and director of a French program for a summer French camp in the U. S.”

One very special person turned the tables by wanting a trip back to Everett. Army Spc. Jeremie Royal, 21, stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., is in Iraq .

“If I could have my dream trip for the holidays, it would be to go home to Silver Lake and spend the holidays with my wife, who is back at Fort Campbell waiting for my return,” Royal said. “Being deployed and away from family has opened my eyes to the world. You can have nothing at times, but you will always have family and friends, and who would want to leave that?”

Royal said he would rather give up a trip of a lifetime to spend Christmas with his family.

“Some things in life are far more important to me now,” he said. “And family is number one on that list.”

Columnist Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451 or oharran@heraldnet.com.