Asher on Aspen: Home for the holidays
Asher on Aspen
My father stands patiently outside of his vehicle at the airport in preparation for my arrival. He routinely loads my bags into the trunk and greets me with a big bear hug. I have never missed a Christmas at home in Iowa and as much as I’m beginning to fall in love with Aspen this time of year, I never plan to.
My sister flew in from New York earlier that day and my mother was beside herself to have her four daughters at home all together, once again for yet another Christmas. I take one step into my childhood home and instantly become overwhelmed with nostalgia for the traditions and the routines that made my December celebrations so memorable growing up.
A plethora of Christmas cards fill the front of my mothers refrigerator. Our tree is decorated with all the usual ornaments that have been collected over the course of some 20-odd years. “Saturday Night Live’s” Christmas special is on TV in the background while my mother finishes up her wrapping. My sister and I congregate in the living room to catch up and swap stories of our days of travel and the progress of our Christmas shopping.
Our traditions typically begin on Christmas Eve when over 50 relatives fill up my grandmother’s house in Omaha. Family members flood into the living room area with gifts and cookies galore. I step over children and unwrapped presents on my way to the kitchen to secure a bowl of oyster soup — a beloved Christmas tradition. My grandmother is 86 years old and she still manages to give each of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren a Christmas present.
The next day, we drive about two hours west of Omaha to Aurora, Nebraska, for a gathering with my dad’s side of the family. After our annual white elephant gift exchange, the whole family comes together to play a series of various games. Even though I haven’t seen some of these family members in over a year, movie trivia games of some sort always have a way of bringing us together.
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After a month of preparing for the holidays, the day after Christmas always proves to be somewhat of a letdown. All the presents have been opened and some radio stations have even stopped playing holiday music. We wind down at my sister’s house back in Iowa where my nieces entertain us with their joyful innocence.
The 6-year-old flutters through the living room as my sister prepares to bake Russian tea cakes with her new KitchenAid that my mother gifted her for Christmas. “Turn it up,” my sister Emily shouts as Mariah Carey comes on over the Echo. My eldest sister swings her hips as she sings along and proceeds to unload the dishwasher.
My niece tells us about her big moment of catching the cheese as a mouse in the Des Moines “Nutcracker” while my 3-year-old niece sings “Frozen” songs and hops around the living room acting like Olaf. “Let it go, let it go!” she shouts with incredible enthusiasm.
The evening wraps up with my three sisters and me in the living room having an in-depth conversation on the couch. We discuss when we will all be reunited again and our plans for the year of 2020. Some traditions come and go throughout our lives but coming home for Christmas is one that will never die for me.
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