It is late, and I am dragging a huge tub out of the closet attempting not to make a noise.
Waking my sleeping daughter would be foolish. I have finished cleaning our apartment from top to bottom. My eyes are weary and my feet long to be put up.
Instead, my hands are on bedazzled red and blue stars.
Glitter sprays onto my jeans from a fancy faux firework bouquet. I begin fluffing the leaves of the wire tree that will hold an arrangement of American flags and military ornaments. I tack a banner to the mirror of our bathroom, “Home of the Free, Because of the Brave”. It all feels ridiculous and maybe a touch FUN.
I fall into bed that night gleeful. When my daughter wakes up she will squeal with delight. My husband somewhere into our eight years of marriage has embraced the wild array of decoration tubs we must bring with us on every move across the country, across the world.
This is who I am, and always have been. A small town Ohio gal raised in a home decked out for the holidays. My mother and grandmothers have always had cute little harks to the holidays around their homes.
I grew up knowing those decorations would be there, and looked forward to them. The special advent calendar at Nana’s house that had hidden treats behind the days for Christmas. My grandmother’s goose dressed up in rain boots for the month of May, fishing gear for June, and a whole closet of yearly wear. Mama still sends me photos of her decorative holiday mantels, telling me each new addition she has crafted or thrifted. Each little detail is arranged with a keen eye, and I have started building my own collection thoughtfully.
Over the years I have met friends that find my smattering of holiday décor too cutesy or hideously unstylish. I simply shrug. I love pulling out my signature items, dusting them off, and changing my home with the season. These moments are not about the perfectly curated home of matching items. It’s about making it feel like the year changes along with us. Each season may be celebrated in turn. A small heart tug reaches across the world to the women that raised me.
We are a family that knows no one home. It is a familiar term for military families, to make home where the heart is. You do that in whatever way you can. Whatever brings you peace and comfort in a life of expected upheaval.
Bring life into each new home you move into. Do not hesitate to make those walls your own. Do not shy from building your fortress of cozy, however that appears to you. For me, that is in a few extra bins of fluffy bunnies for Easter, a string of four leaf clovers for St. Patty’s, and of course I cover Christmas with abundance.
In the grand scheme, I know extra holiday cheer will not make or break our gypsy family. But there is nothing more settling to my soul than pulling out the good old décor for all seasons no matter where we are.
I wake the next day and the morning whispers with excitement. My daughter wakes up to my preparation for Independence Day. It rings through our home with grand splashes of red, white and blue.
Her baby hair is tussled from the crib. I scoop her up and carry her out of her room. A little laugh emits from her lips. Her pudgy finger starts to point, “pretty Mama! Stars!” Yes, I tell her, that is indeed a star. That is the America flag. That is a firework, and they sound like “BOOOOM!”
We go over colors, and she wildly waves a small twinkling star sprig. Her brow furrows as she concentrates on transferring the glitter onto her fingers.
I like that a few small decorations can elicit such smiles. I will pass these decorations all month long and feel glad that I get to do this for my family. I get to carry on these traditions for us, no matter where we are. I may be miles away from the small town of Ohio I once knew. But the vigor for holiday cheer is instilled in me. It’s up to me to add a little extra sparkle around the holidays, no matter where the military sends us. So I’m doing it.
Guest Submission by Lindsay Swoboda
Lindsay is a military wife, mom, and writer. As a former professional dancer you can find her doing pirouettes in the kitchen whilst also flipping pancakes. She finds solace in hearing the sound of her sewing machine and a hot cup of coffee. She’s lived and traveled all over the world but believes there is always more to experience. Her blog Uplifting Anchor encourages mothers and military spouses.