A Place to Rest Your Head

 

Home. That word connotes a spectrum of perceptions ranging from sanctuary to hell, depending on the circumstances. For some, home is the place they love best, metaphorically if not physically. For others, it’s the place they need to escape. I always hope for all of us that home is a sanctuary, even though I’m awake enough to realize that this sentiment is naive.

This is a strange, wonderful, mostly strangely wonderful time of year. People rush around in some sugar-induced frenzy to do All The Things, even though many of those things don’t really make sense or generate well-being. I’m already there if the reason for a gathering is to share company and laughter. I am going to come up with some urgent doctor’s appointment if the reason for a gathering is some obligatory nonsense. Do I really need to go see the scar from Aunt June’s wart removal? I will, but only if Aunt June would be cheered by the visit. How about the fifth celebration some dude I don’t even know is having to build good cheer (and his business)? That’s when I have a sudden gynecological flare-up. I use “girl troubles” and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I figure I make up for this social fib by going to plenty of functions with actual girl troubles and no complaint.

Holiday gift exchanges are beasts of an uncannily stress-inducing nature. I celebrate the people who want the sparkly wrapped packages complete with raffia and tastefully beribboned goodness. I just don’t live anywhere near that home-and-garden-type glory. People who love the joy of gift-giving, please enjoy. I am left confused and bewildered as to what to do on any given year for the people who I love but who are not family: my close coworkers, my orthodontist (we went gray together, so that counts), my friends, and my children’s friends who are the children of my heart.

I can usually make a decision and run with that choice, secure in the knowledge that I’ll reap the consequences, good or bad, without hurting anyone else in the process. Gift giving, not so much. I worry, I fret, I bypass worry and fret and go straight toward baking. The challenge for this nowadays is that so many of us are watching our health plans that, unless I’m including flax seed, glucosamine, and B-complex vitamins, we’re all supposed to walk away from the cookie platter. I hope we don’t, but I know we will have our socially acceptable thank-you bite and then plead some gynecological or joint-related excuse (I know I’m not the only one making the excuses here).

After a silly amount of fretting, I decided this year to make pillows for the people I want to give a physical token of my me-ness. I figure that, even if my friends, coworkers and such don’t particularly like the pillow, they’ll get the symbolism of the fact that, really, I just wish them a happy place to rest their heads and the knowledge that they always have a home in my heart.

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