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Essays by Karen Anderson: Home for Christmas

Essays by Karen Anderson.png
Illustration by Kacie Brown
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I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks—being home for Christmas. Now I’m here, tucked in under the familiar blue wool blanket—and wide awake at two a.m. I was sure that when I could “sleep in my own bed” I could sleep—but the insomnia that has stalked me at college has followed me here. Finally, at four a.m., I crawl out of bed and tiptoe into my parents’ room.

“Mom,” I whisper, touching her shoulder. “I can’t sleep.”

“I’m glad you woke me up,” she says quietly. “I was hungry and I didn’t know it.”

Soon we are sitting on the couch by the light of the Christmas tree, drinking tea and eating frosted Santa Clauses. Actually, she is eating and I am crying, telling her about everything that has gone wrong this past semester.

“It was a terrible mistake,” I sob, “moving into a sorority house. It’s so noisy and I can’t study and I can’t sleep.” My mother nods, sipping her tea.

“We’ll figure it out,” she says.

Looking back, I see that my worst moment was her finest hour—not when she helped me figure it out but when she said, “I was hungry and I didn’t know it.”

Karen Anderson is a writer who lives and works in Traverse City, Michigan. She was a columnist for the Traverse City Record-Eagle for 30 years and published two collections.