We go home to Missouri for Christmas on even years. On odd years, we go for Thanksgiving. This being 2007, we spent Christmas home in Michigan.
When we go out of town for Christmas, it's mayhem. Loading up the car with kids and presents, driving 500 miles each way, going from house to house to visit, spending the night in various family members' homes -- it's all so very exhausting. Fun, but exhausting. Then, once we get home from our trip, we have Christmas all over again. You see, Santa delivers the children's presents here and we find them upon our return. We made this arrangement with Santa years ago, so we wouldn't have to lug toys over 1,000 miles, risking loss, breakage, and other headaches.
I love it when we stay in Michigan for Christmas. It's so peaceful and relaxing. We pick out our tree on the eve of Christmas Eve and decorate as carols play on the radio. On Christmas Eve we attend the Vigil Mass, as we're always scheduled to serve that day. We come home to a nice dinner, thanks to the crock pot, and put the kids to bed early before Santa makes his appearance.
Of course, the children jump in our bed early Christmas morning, anxious to open presents. Once Rob and I get our robes on and trudge into the living room, we read the nativity narrative from the Bible and get to opening presents. We open just one at a time rather than the everyone-for-himself mayhem. It takes forever, but hey we have nowhere else to go. This year, I stayed in my jammies well into the afternoon -- I love it!
Yes, I do miss my family in Missouri. But, it's not really the holidays when I long for them. It's those everyday moments when I find myself missing them terribly. When I bake a special dessert and I'd like to call my parents to come over to share. When the kids are in a play and I'd like to invite my in-laws to come watch. When I need a babysitter and I know my siblings would jump at the chance if they lived close by. When the kids would like to go on a nature hike and my Uncle Jim would be just the guy to take them. When I'd just like to sit down with a cup of tea and shoot the breeze with cousins for no other reason than to spend time together.
Those are the times when I really miss my family. Not in the hustle bustle of holiday busyness, but in the simple everyday happenings.