Most places in life disappear as you get older. Parks are replaced with new stores. Restaurants go out of business. Schools move. One beloved location of my childhood that I have since lost is my great-grandmother’s house. Sure, the building is still there, right next to my grandparent’s house. However, a whole different family lives there now. Despite the fact the my grandpa still owns the property, the renter’s sports cars and basketball hoop seem out of place in the driveway.
Growing up, my great-grandmother’s house was immaculate. Every piece of the house was in perfect order, dust-free, and breakable. From time to time, I feel myself missing that perfection. Although her old piano is now in my living room, it doesn’t look the same as it did in her living room. Although I have a teddy bear that was constantly in her basement, I can no longer smell her house when I bury my nose into it. I thought that I had lost any ability to return to her house.
Tonight though, my mind was changed. As I entered a much different house for a Christmas party, the extravagant decorations took my breath away. Momentarily, I was transported to my childhood. I longed to bite into the Moravian cookies and coconut balls of Christmases past. I wanted ham, fruit salad, cloth napkins, and unknown extended family.
To my delight, the hostess had two platters of Moravian cookies (and I will admit that I ate too many). As I bit into them, I felt like an eight-year-old again. It felt like I was home. I quickly realized that all of the cloth napkins were perfectly wrapped into ornate napkin rings, just as they were on my great-grandmother’s table. The fruit salad tasted amazing. Some of the other things I desired were there in an updated fashion. While there were no coconut balls (in fact I have never seen coconut balls anywhere besides my great-grandmother’s house), there was coconut cake. Instead of plain ham, there were small ham and cheese biscuits. I was even joined by some second and third cousins to make the night even more like the Christmases I remember.
While I can never again truly go to my great-grandmother’s for Christmas, I felt at home tonight at the Christmas party. The longer I sat in the dining room, the more similarities I found with this house and my great-grandmother’s house. A piano right next to a bathroom door. A small walkway with a counter between the dining room and living room. Multiple Christmas trees. Glass ornaments. For lack of a better term, I felt like I was in my great-grandmother’s house reincarnated. Maybe not all places truly disappear.