We live 8 and 13 and 16 hours from our family members. We have traveled these miles every year for 22 years to spend face time and stay connected with our loved ones. Our three kids are amazing road trippers. We look forward to the time in the car together: Charlotte writing silly songs about our adventures, Will watching movies and asking for a turn to select the music, and Julia on standby to efficiently assist parents and siblings but preferably reading a book that she can't put down.
The annual adventure is usually great. The annual planning and packing is usually taxing. Each year, I plan to not be overwhelmed and stressed. Each year, I set aside a packing day, which is really a laundry day. Each year, I start early, but somehow still have things in the dryer the night before we leave. Each year, we always forget someone's something, including but not limited to pajamas, shoes, a jacket, or a toothbrush. Three years in a row, I forgot to pack socks for myself. I eventually gave my mom replacement socks for all of the pairs I had "borrowed." I chose cute pairs that I would be happy to wear if the need arose.
But my travel conditions are changing. My daughters now pack their own clothes, and Will can pack his own carry on of car entertainment items. We still have to tell our darling Charlotte, now aged 14, that she has over packed. And Will is following in her footsteps by asking to bring large plastic bins of toys surpassing the size and weight limit for the van's storage area. Now, we count chargers for phones and are even taking two cars, because one of our travelers will return to her dorm instead of her room here at our house. (sigh)
Traveling to be with family during busy holidays is always a trade off. Hectic planning and hurrying to complete local activities and spend time with friends is always rushed. But this pays off when we are all there and settled in for the big celebration. When you stay home alone, your days are not as rushed, but Christmas Day or Easter, traditionally big family events, can be very lonely without the giggles of cousins and crowded couches full of relatives watching movies together. The food prep is simpler, but the menu is not as varied as the one with Granddaddy's special spiced pecans.
Please do not hear melancholy in this post. The trade off is part of life. We are always choosing. We love to travel to Alabama, Georgia, and finally this year to Texas to see our families. We choose to be close even though we are far away. We choose joy in the holidays spent both with and without the crowd. We choose to celebrate rather than just corroborate our lists. Christmas brings perspective. I will finish the list, and then I will sit and watch and absorb the joy of the season. I will celebrate all that God has given me.
Psalm 9:1-2 is my heart's simple honest prayer today: I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you. I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
I missed a post yesterday, so today needs to count as a two for one. I made a choice yesterday to play and be silly with my kids and cousins. Merry Christmas to all! I am so blessed by each one of you reading this.