These past few weeks have been hard. Not because of NaNo (though creating an entire novel in a month is most definitely work)…because of homesickness. I’m sitting here at home, with a mug of coffee and eggnog, looking out the window at the gray sky, but still, I’m homesick. I grew up in Spokane, Washington, on the other side of the country. When I first moved to Georgia, I wanted to love it. I really did. And now, four years later, I like it well enough…but it isn’t Spokane. I miss Spokane more during winter, and especially around Thanksgiving and Christmastime.
During this time of year, we would all go downtown and make a day of it, walking well into the night. If you haven’t seen Spokane in winter, with all the Christmas lights strung up on the trees and Christmas decorations in every window, with the crunch of snow under your feet and snowflakes drifting down onto your head, you haven’t experienced the most memorable part of my growing up.
The highlight of visiting downtown during Christmas was the enormous Christmas tree in the riverpark square mall. We would stare up at it from the bottom, look at all the ornaments hanging from it – glass balls, rocking horses, gingerbread men, gift boxes – and then we would take the elevator up so we could look at it from the top.
There were all sorts of stores downtown. We would walk along the sidewalk as it got dark, our noses frozen and buried in scarves, and then we would run into Pottery Barn (I would pick up a Pottery Barn teen to take home), browse, duck out and run into another store. Usually we would get hot chocolate or something else to drink while we walked. We would walk past the horse and carriage ride and I would go up to pet the horses if they weren’t busy pulling someone around.
There were always people carolling somewhere; not visiting anyone in particular, just singing as they walked, and usually we would join in, adding some very different voices to the mix. It was magical. After it was over, we would bundle into the car and begin the drive home. We kids would nod off to the sound of Manheim Steamroller playing a Christmas song. We might do this two or three times during the Christmas season, and each time was better than the last.
Now, in Georgia, we go to Stone Mountain once every Christmas. I love going to Stone Mountain when it’s cold, watching the shows, drinking hot chocolate, eating hand-tossed rolls and possibly some peppermint fudge. I love it. But no matter how much I try and escape the fact, as much as I like Georgia, especially during this season when everything is better, I miss Washington.