Ten years ago Kirsten and I decided to stop celebrating Christmas with the girls. We didn’t like its symbolism, religious heritage, and most of the ways people celebrated. However, we did like the idea of spending time together with intentional focus on strengthening our relationships. We created our own traditions and called them, collectively, “Festibond.” Our Festibond celebration, in which we go on dates, write and read letters to each other, play games, put together puzzles, and eat way too many snacks, has always been my favorite day. Festibond 2016, our tenth, was Saturday. It was my favorite day of the whole year.
Kirsten died in May. Every day since has been, to some degree, more prosaic than if she were still here. I was concerned that Festibond this year would be somber instead of happy and joyful. Indeed, we missed her as we do always, but our celebration was wonderful, happy, heart-warming, and close, as I’d hoped. The girls have embraced the spirit of Festibond from its inception. Squabbles that would happen on other days don’t. Everybody pitches in to make it all happen. We smile, we laugh, there may be singing, and we give each other lots of hugs. It’s impossible to describe just how special and penetrating it is, but I am always moved and wish every day in our house could be more Festibond-like.
For nine years we lived in an apartment on the third story of a brick building in Maine. Before that we lived in a house in Kansas, but we moved shortly after I turned four, so I have no memories from it. This September we began to look for a new home. Our apartment was familiar to me after living there so long, but I was thrilled by the notion of moving, for not only a change, but because the apartment had many little cons. Things like doorknobs being loose and falling off, or doors not closing right.
Before this move I knew nothing about the process of moving, so was a bit disappointed that we wouldn’t be officially moving for at least over a month. There was also the problem of where the house would be. I defiantly wanted to stay in Saco, and I didn’t want to move too far away from The main area. There was also the problem of how many bedrooms it would have. At our apartment we each were able to have our own room, which was great, but it was unlikely we would find a good four-bedroom house that we liked at our price range. I agreed to share a room with my oldest sister, Skye, if needed, because I knew it would be worth it to be able to move to a nice place, and she would be leaving for college in about a year anyway. When it did come time to start viewing houses, though, I felt beyond excited and optimistic. The first house we viewed still had some furniture and everything in it, but as we walked through it, I gradually grew less and less excited. It seemed to be a bit of a fixer-upper and felt old. There was a huge garage (full of clutter) and a basement, but there were also windows on bedroom doors that had been painted over and many little things that would also need replacing. I didn’t like it, but I did do my best to stay positive. The next house we viewed was better, but it felt cramped in places and I did not like the kitchen at all. There had been a garage separate from the house, but the previous owner had connected them with a room. It also had a very large open basement. Both of the houses had been close to the high school and my best friends house, which I liked, but the houses were not as I had hoped. Again, I felt a bit discouraged.
My family had lived in the same apartment in Saco for nearly ten years. The proximity to Thornton Academy, downtown Saco, and Biddeford was ideal, but my dad had been talking about moving for years. This Autumn, we started looking at different houses with a realtor and it started to feel very real. The whole process was very exciting.
Now, we’ve lived in the Park street lofts for over a month and it’s just beginning to feel like home. My favorite things about it are all the big windows, the kitchen space and appliances, and the “openness”. Every morning, sunshine from the East streams into the dining room and makes everything warm and colorful. It’s quiet and peaceful. Whereas at our former apartment, the windows were closer to the ground and smaller, so the sunrise was not as great. I love that my sisters, dad, and I spend more time together because the loft is more open.
I’m glad that we were able to have Thanksgiving at our new loft. Our Aunt Christina, Brent’s sister, came over for Thanksgiving break. We had a traditional Thanksgiving meal on our new table. It felt homey. Our new kitchen is easy and comfortable to use, so we are cooking and having family meals more often.