Living over 700 miles from our families sometimes makes the holidays difficult for me. Because of the challenge in scheduling around me, my husband, and our two employed young adults, we won’t be “going home” for Christmas this year.
This saddens me.
I will miss the always amusing banter between my three brothers and my husband. The way that they can recite lines from funny (stupid) movies as if they had been part of the original cast.
I will miss both of my niece’s gentle spirits. Their kind, compassionate, smart, funny hearts.
I will miss the amazing conversations I always seem to have with all of my nephews. The way that I marvel at how much they’ve changed. How I appreciate and savor every word, every smile and frown, every uninhibited expression.
I will miss the snow. The way that, when you drive from the east side of the state to the west, the snow banks get deeper and deeper.
I will miss my mom’s gingerbread boys. Soft and sweet, with the perfect blend of spices, these are one Christmas treat I cannot resist.
I will miss both of my sisters-in-law, a truly profound blessing to me. Their witty wisdom, their enlightened grace, their calming and subtle affect on my sometimes over-stressed heart.
I will miss hot coffee in the morning at the kitchen table on Allen Road and the relaxed, wonderful conversations that always seem to happen there. When the sister and her boys come in and fill the house with energy.
I will miss Christmas mass at Cabrini, the chill in the air, the beautiful decorations, the lovely choir, singing all the favorites.
Mostly, I will miss the wonderful opportunities to bring everyone together. The crowds of relatives, the festivity in the air, the hustle and bustle. The overflowing love and affection. The smiles, laughter, and enjoyment of the relationships I hold most dear.
I find myself half-heartedly putting up the decorations in my own house this year, 700 miles away. My favorite Christmas playlists don’t have their usual appeal. And yet, I have a profound awareness of the gift of my own little family here in Pennsylvania. It is as if this year, when I am missing my larger family’s traditions, the “little” family traditions we have become magnified and treasured. It’s God’s grace that has shown me this truth.
Today, I thank God for my families, large and small, and the wonderful ways that they shower me with grace.
I invite you to do the same.