It’s hard to believe, but it is almost time for me to make the long journey north again. By tomorrow night, I’ll be in Michigan with my family again, perhaps nuzzling my newborn nephew, grateful to be reunited with the clan.
I have a huge to-do list today, the usual overwhelming routine of getting ready to go out of town. Laundry, packing, grocery shopping to fill the pantry, cooking and freezing some meals for my return. I’m anticipating that when I come back, I’ll be eager to return to work, so I want my kitchen to be well-stocked with provisions to get me through those first few days of re-entry. Tonight I’m going to make chili, which I’ve been craving for a week. I’ll take a serving of it with me to eat at the airport tomorrow, before I go through security, and I’ll freeze the rest tonight. I know I will be very thankful to have good food waiting for me after I make the long trip back to Texas.
I am almost ready for Christmas. I have just a few more gifts to buy when I get to Michigan, and I’ll have some wrapping to do, which I love. My niece often helps me with the wrapping—I think it’s become a bit of a tradition for us! So I hope she’ll be in the mood to help me this year too. I love that kiddo so much, and the thought of seeing her tomorrow night makes me feel brave enough to face the airport.
Perhaps it’s easy to tell, given my choice of words here—overwhelming, brave—but travel is stressful for me. I do love to see new places, and I love returning to Michigan to see my family, but it’s always hard for me to leave home. I love my quiet little place here in Texas. I love that I have made this place a home, that I have persevered to overcome the scary parts and the disappointing parts of my time in Texas thus far. I feel a quiet sense of pride that I have staked out my territory, and I feel hopeful that the decisions that led me to move here will blossom into success and happiness. I am happy down here, but I’m still working on the success part. At any rate, I keep telling myself that it will be nice to be away for a while and then it will be nice to return.
Before I go, I wanted to share something inspiring with you that I found this morning. I’m always on the hunt for new blogs and new reading material—I am insatiable, people!—and I found this post, from which I want to quote a few lines. It’s about the winter holiday season, of course:
“embrace a little bit of the mess that these days bring, and then i bet next year, the mess will make you feel all nostalgic.
make time to tidy up the mess, so you have a little bit of peace, and quiet, and stillness, so these days don't all feel like a big jumble of stuff and noise.
it's all a balance, just like the rest of the year.”
And this one reminded me of my sister, my own personal shopper and the person to whom I turn most frequently for shopping and style advice:
“go through your clothes and put together outfits out of what you have. i'm pretty sure i've forgotten more of my wardrobe than i remember, than i use daily. go shopping in your closet.
this is especially fun if you let someone help you. i have two eager daughters. but a friend would be super fun, too. (plus you could probably add some wine to the occasion that way.)”
The whole post is fantastic, ways to embrace the Christmas spirit with your heart and soul, not your wallet. My family has always taken a fairly modest approach to Christmas, but I admit that I love the fun and surprise of opening presents. I also love to give presents when I’ve had the time and inspiration to find a special something that I think the recipient will enjoy. But this year, like every other year, I know I’ll love and remember the moments of Christmas more than any single gift: the eggnogs and laughter, the mornings gathered around my brother’s kitchen table with the little ones entertaining us, the quiet walks outside in the cold air, sitting with my niece while she helps me wrap presents, visiting with old friends whom I adore. Perhaps what is most important about Christmas is the ritual. Even though it looks a little different every year, it’s the return to Michigan, to family and friends that matters. That, and the eggnog.
Tomorrow I leave for the Mitten and I’m not sure if or when I’ll be posting again. I’ve got so many things to share with you these days, but those posts will have to wait. In the meantime, be healthy and merry, get lots of rest, hug your favorite people, sing and dance with joy, and I’ll see you soon. Happy holidays, happy winter solstice, and thanks for reading.