Celebrate Me Home

I’ve been feeling rather Grinchy about Christmas this year. Stuck in house limbo with balmy temperatures more suited to San Diego than 7000′ in Colorado with finals impending I just couldn’t muster my usual enthusiasm for Christmas music, twinkly lights, Christmas trees, presents and gift wrap.

Christmas 2011; Mullan, Idaho

And then suddenly, on Monday, I had a house deadline: an actual three day range in which I can expect to get my certificate of occupancy and move in. I briefly had a little tantrum and decided I wasn’t going to have a Christmas tree. I was going to do my best to move in and then I’d sort out Christmas later. There I sat, behind my usual pace on Christmas presents, threatening to basically skip Christmas traditions, and begrudge the entire trip to Tacoma to celebrate with my family.

Home for the holiday,
I believe I’ve missed each and every face,
Come on and play my music,
Let’s turn on every love light in the place.

Tuesday, I took a look at my list of gifts I had left to purchase. Somehow my icy feelings towards the holiday melted all at once. I started placeing orders on gifts that I’d been procrastinating on ordering, simply going for the gifts I knew I wanted to buy those people love. Somehow my list got longer as I reconsidered a couple people I wasn’t going to purchase for and I did it anyway. I know it’s in vogue to simplify and cut your list these days but that’s just not my style. 

As a kid, Christmas at my house was magical. My mom and dad went out of their way to make the holiday special for us as kids. There was a never ending string of traditions that lead us from our viewing of “It’s A Wonderful Life” late Thanksgiving night to doing a puzzle to the background of college football bowl games between Christmas and New Years. Throughout high school and college I never was ashamed of my absurd love for the joyousness of the Christmas holiday. In high school I wore giant gift bows on my head unapologetically. Once I even found a battery pack set of mini lights and wore them in my hair (OMG… with LEDs I might have to get on this again). In college, I introduced more than a few friends to the cannon of Christmas movies.

In my young adult life, however, things wavered. Even during the two Christmas I spent mobile, I decorated the van and camper. The sparkle had dimmed and I kind of started to think that I’d lost my love for the season.

It’s time I found myself
Totally surrounded in your circles
Whoa, my friends.

After making a list and checking it twice, I put it on my list for next week to go get a Christmas tree permit—damn it, a tree was going to be the first thing in the house after a bed. I’m nothing if not stubborn and I wasn’t going to let this be the first time I could have a tree and not do it.

As I’m sure all of the lovely people in my life can attest, my affect around questions about the house has been mellow and sinking. It occupies my thoughts a lot but I don’t really have control so I’ve just settled into a holding pattern. It feels disappointing to me and I just can’t decide whether I should show excitement for the people who are so excited for me or whether I should retreat to my safe non-emotional space. I always choose the latter.

Please, celebrate me home,
Give me a number
Please, celebrate me home

Tonight though, on the way home from my side hustle chocolate shop job, I decided to play some Christmas music. I went to the little amount of Christmas music on my phone. In a hurry to get home to Sprocket, I put it on shuffle and the first song was Kenny Loggins “Celebrate Me Home.”

My first solo Christmas tree, 2014

Immediately I froze. Tears welled in my eyes. Suddenly, it all seemed real. I was going to give myself the best present ever just before the holiday. I realized there could be little better than wrapping presents in the glow of Christmas lights on a tree cut at 12,000′ with the warmth of a woodstove warming me in my own home even before I get the rest of my possessions moved in the house.

Play me one more song
That I’ll always remember
And I can recall
Whenever I find myself too all alone
I can sing me home.

“Celebrate Me Home” was my dad’s favorite Christmas song. He would play it repeatedly. He would always take every opportunity to do just one extra Christmas thing but every single year, Christmas night he would remark, “Aren’t we so lucky to have so much family to spend Christmas with?”

Maybe it’s because Dad latched on to “Celebrate Me Home” while I was in college when I started traveling for the holiday, but “Celebrate Me Home” has always felt like the journey into the holiday to me and I’m just going to hold it as the anthem in my heart right now. My journey towards bringing myself home is coming to a close but it’s time to start really putting the pieces together of living my life. 

Uneasy highway
Traveling where the Western winds can fly
Somebody tried to tell me
But the men forgot to tell me why

This was the thread I’d lost somewhere. I’d been surviving for so long that there was so little space for traditions and time to relish the beauty of the holiday season that I really just wasn’t fully appreciating it. Being far from family at the holidays had changed things but I am so lucky to have a place I love living like Ridgway and a family back in Washington still carrying on the traditions that I had always loved so much.

The Night Was Dark but FULL of Sparkles

The familiar melody flooded me with feeling. Who am I to be a Scrooge? In the space of three weeks, I will celebrate my new home with myself, Sprocket and a Christmas tree. I’ll celebrate Christmas with my family in Washington then return to settle into the house and celebrate New Years with Ridgway. Then, to put the icing on the cake, I get to welcome my Ridgway family to my new home.

I gotta count on being gone,
Come on home, come on daddy,
Be what you want from me,
I’m this strong, I’ll be weak

Which all brings me here to this moment, I’ve got a honey whiskey spiked peppermint tea propped in the crook of one arm that I can’t reach because Sprocket’s head is propped on the other shoulder begrudgingly letting me type my feelings out here. I dug out the charger for my speaker so I could bathe the shed in Christmas music. The tears keep coming. I know the next weeks are going to be hard, sweet, stressful, exciting, and exhausting. 

Ruth XJ; Red Mountain Pass, 2016.

I can hardly picture what living in a house will actually feel like but I can see myself adapting Clark Grizwold to fit our situation: “Sprocket, we’re kicking off our fun old-fashioned family Christmas by heading up Red Mountain in our 4-wheel drive sleigh…” Back home, I’ll wrestle the tree into the stand, laughing about how small alpine tree trunks are, and trim it with lights, my grandmother’s Shiny Brite ornaments, and tinsel.

Please, celebrate me home,
Give me a number,
Please, celebrate me home
Play me one more song,
That I’ll always remember,
I can recall,
Whenever I feel too all alone,
I can make believe I’ve never been gone
I never* know where I belong
Sing me home.

Tree cutting snowshoe; Grand Mesa, 2015

*How lucky am I to have a place to belong? ♥

Lyrics of “Celebrate Me Home” by Kenny Loggins and Bob James

Feeling Uncomfortable

When I decided to go climbing in Vantage I decided to go because I needed to go, not because I particularly wanted to. Most of the time, I go to work during the week, and on the weekends I want to be by Forrest’s side. I want to spend that time simply being with him. I don’t have a whole lot of friends nearby so doing things on my own has mostly amounted to an adventure to the Cabinets with just Sprocket and a few trips back to Tacoma. Jumping into a new group really isn’t my thing. But for this trip, I wanted to go climbing. I hadn’t been in a long time, and wanted to give it another shot. So I decided to go. And it was fun. But in a lot of ways, it was also hard.

Immediately upon driving into the camping area I was confronted with my awkwardness in meeting new people. I wasn’t totally sure which camp was the WCN one…I’d briefly forgotten about the pink flamingo as a marker…and found myself working up the guts to ask two girls if they were there for the WCN meetup. They weren’t. I felt awkward.

Old friends, puppy dog

And then I had to do it all over again with the actual group I was looking for. The girls (Amy, Claire, Allison, Traisa, Dawn, and Laurel) were as welcoming as I could ever hope for. Give me a group of people I know and I’m loud and in the middle of things (often bordering on brassy but hey, that’s me) put me in a new group and every moment I have to push myself to be friendly. Sometimes that push means talking too much. Sometimes it means being unable to identify what topics are of interest to those I’m talking to.

On top of the meeting people nervousness, I had to balance my climbing nervousness as well. I like to be good at things but it’s pretty hard to be good at something you haven’t done in a long time. I also had only really ever climbed in the gym and even at my best, in the gym, I only managed to climb 5.10s proficiently. I wasn’t going to be good. I experienced cramping hands on 5.8s. A climber in another group pointed out my “Elvis leg*” on a 5.9. I felt unbalanced a lot of the time. I was unsure. My arms and legs tired quickly. And then I had to come down and be friendly and thankful to those who had lead the route for me while mentally I was trying to reconcile myself to my performance.

When I was up on that final climb with my leg shaking, unable to progress further up the wall, I admitted to the situation and asked to be lowered to the ground. I was sad to have not succeeded on my final climb of the weekend, but emotionally I was spent without any more pluck for chatting or attempting to climb. It was really freeing to head out on my own for some afternoon exploring before I headed back home to my boys.

My difficulty in  “putting myself out there” is nothing new (apparently meeting my fiance through Craigslist was some crazily out of character thing I did). In high school and college I was more of the “falling into” friends that I was in close proximity to (sat next to, lived near) and not the go out and meet them variety. Clubs were supposed to be the way but I always found it difficult to find my way to the “center” (only one of my close college friends, a softball teammate, came about this way).

The irony is I’m not all that introverted (bachelor party crashing, Montreal, May 2008)

I feel like I can combat the fear of failing (in climbing, in blogging, etc.) but the social fear is a lot harder. It’s a lot harder to shake the “I’m afraid they don’t really like me” feeling. I feel like I’m likeable which means that I really should probably take risks like this more often. Because they’re not really risks, they’re adventures. (Remind me of that later, okay?)


What things do you find hard that are really just “normal” things that a “grown-up” should be able to handle?


* Elvis leg: n. the uncontrollable shake of a leg uncontrollably during a climb. Often due to a combination of nerves and overcontraction of muscles. Also called sewing machine leg. (Climbing Dictionary)



I feel old. But not grown up.

I read this yesterday and thought totally, This Is Why I’ll Never Be An Adult. And then I worked all day, went home and cleaned a little, hung some siding with Forrest, went to the fire department work party, and then yes, Forrest and worked I worked on siding until 11pm. Yes, we rigged up the halogen lamp from the quad, ran the chop saw by the porch light, and I picked out the boards in the dark.  All to get ready for an appraisal today at 10am. (The house only needs to appraise for $45,000 which it should just fine but we wanted some more siding to be done to cover the door delete and window frame ins to be sure).

This was all quite grown up. It was kind of exciting and exhilarating. And really fun to laugh when our friends drove by at ten to see the while I tried to hold a flashlight and keep the board pressed in so Forrest could check that it was level and nail it on.

But I get cranky and tired in the mornings if I don’t get my full eight hours of sleep. (And I think it might have made me pick a fight with F this morning. Shit.) I also haven’t really figured out how to deal with the crabby tiredness. (My wise fiancé told me I had to because: “The worst of times will always be tiresome times.”) This inability to deal with the simple tired seems like it blows all of my scurrying around do-ing stuff out of the water but maybe that negativity is just because I’m tired. I’m more adult than not and at 25 that’s pretty good.