My North Carolina grandsons, aged five and three, have a great name for our home in Galva.
They call it "the Snowy House," based on last Christmastime, the one visit to Illinois they both remember. They have vivid memories of arriving the week before the holiday, just in time for a hearty helping of piles and abundant piles of wintertime weather, something they had only seen before in picture books and movies.
Now, Coastal Carolina does have seasons. Sort of.
It gets cold in the winter. Kind of.
And last year, it even snowed. A little.
But nothing could have prepared them for a sensational series of snow-dazzled days filled with snow balls, snow forts and snowmen, plus sledding, ice skating and more. It was like a wonderful winter carnival, just for them.
Trouble is, now there's nothing much we can say that can convince them that Galva isn't always just a slightly balmier, year-round version of the North Pole. We're heading that way (Galva, not the N.P.) this week, with a travel plan that proves, once and for all, that grandma and I are not exactly destined to be known as Christmas wise men. While Cyrus and John's mom and dad are leaving as soon as Paddy's school vacation begins, we have opted to pack up the two tykes earlier on and embark on a thousand-mile jaunt that will test whether I am still able to cajole, entreat or threaten two active boys into some semblance of reasonable behavior on a two-day car trip. Once we're back in Illinois, they're gonna expect me to produce a goodly amount of the white stuff, along with all the fun stuff that goes with it...or explain why not.
So, let's pray for snow. Please.
The task of preparing our big old Galva home (you know, the Snowy House) for Christmas is one that normally begins the day after Thanksgiving, accelerates into a veritable blitzkrieg of red, green, silver and gold in the first couple of weeks of December, then settles into a steady, busy process somewhat akin to what goes on in Santa's workshop right up until about eleven o'clock on Christmas Eve.
But not this year.
Arriving home, as we are, just a week and a couple days before zero hour, something probably ought to give.
But what's it going to be?
Certainly not the ten-foot tree in the front room, though there's going to have to be some serious furniture moving before it gets placed in its normal spot. And I can't imagine we're planning on doing without the other full-sized models that normally grace our front hall and the family room out back. I suppose it wouldn't seem like Christmas without the beloved bins and boxes full of greenery, figurines, candles and other yuletide flotsam that usually adorn just about every table, counter, sill and mantle throughout the season, and I know the neighbors would be disappointed if they didn't get to watch me clinging to the front-porch pillars like a rickety middle-aged monkey as I hang some sort of outdoor decor, as well. I firmly draw the line at any thought of a cutback in Christmas-cookie production or Swedish meatball-making, and since all our kids and grandkids will be attendance, the food-fest will need to be ongoing and bountiful.
But here's the thing.
We are, once again, lucky enough to have all those kids and grandkids together for another family holiday. And that, along with the real reason for the season, is all that really matters.
So, ho, ho, ho.
I can't wait.