Saturday, December 28, 2019

One Season at a Time

Today is December 28, 2019, and for the first time since we've been married, I just now finished our Christmas cards. I've always gotten them out before the holiday. However, this year has been a doozy.

2019 has not necessarily been a bad year, although I am ready to kick it to the curb. There have, like any year, been some great parts and some terrible parts. In a job like mine, you can assume there are bad parts that I can't talk about publicly because I value hurt children's privacy, even if you will never know them. There have been some other parts that have challenged me in ways I wasn't anticipating.

And there has been travel. Everyone knows I love to travel. Too long in one place and I start to get itchy (and living in Colorado, that's literally itchy. It's so dry here!) I love seeing new places and meeting new people. I love spending time with friends and co-workers I rarely see, and I love seeing life through their eyes and on their streets. I'm just as happy sitting in someone's kitchen or going to the market with them as I am seeing a world-famous tourist attraction. It is a true and rare blessing that I get to travel for work, and I don't take it for granted. But it can be grinding, and I scheduled myself pretty tightly this fall especially. In 2019, I showed up in Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, El Salvador, Uganda, Guatemala, Thailand and New Zealand for work, and Michigan, Washington DC, Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Illinois, Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington State and New York for not-work. Every trip was great in its own way. Some were precious, some were fun, some were heartbreaking, and some were just ridiculous.

But by the time I got home from the last trip the night of December 13, after travelling most of the way around the world and being delayed 6 hours in the LAX airport, I was done. I do not blame anyone for being done - I chose to say yes to every trip I went on. I know the reasons for every yes, and I know why I can walk blindfolded through multiple international airports.

But I was ready to put the passport in the lockbox for a couple of months, and not try out my newly acquired platinum status with United. Don't get me wrong, I love being with family for Christmas, but this year, being home after being gone felt like what we needed. Holidays with family is great, but hardly restful.

Hard pivot to Christmas. I am a firm believer that every holiday needs its space, and I refuse to decorate for the next before the previous has passed. Leaving for Thailand before Thanksgiving with a direct flight to Auckland from Bangkok after meant that I left the house still sporting all our fall decor. With just six days before our annual Christmas Vacation party, Eric and I dragged our jet-lagged selves out of bed and made a mad dash for the National Forest to find whatever was left for the taking for this years' Christmas tree. In 45 minutes, we had what might be our best tree year. At about a foot smaller than last year, this 13 foot beauty is ramrod straight, and doesn't take up half our living room like trees from years' past have done.

And it was just the thing to start to put us in the Christmas spirit. By nightfall, it was up and decorated, and the rest of the house soon followed. It was a flurry of activity around here for the next several days, decorating and prepping for a party, and then for Christmas iteself. The party was a success, with a surprise 21 people attending over the 13 we originally anticipated. We got Christmas presents in the mail, wrapped our own, and got them under the behemoth pine.

On December 23, I finished my last day of work before the holiday, and went to the grocery store on my way home to pick up what I needed for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners. I was feeling like I was finally just beginning to start to enjoy the holiday, knowing we were going to have several days off. I really wanted to settle in, around the pine monstrosity in the living room, and spend a few minutes being present in what was left of this season.

And then, in aisle six, there was this:

Easter? I think I need to speak with a manager.

King Soopers not withstanding, I will be here, on the couch under a blanket, looking at the fir, until Three Kings Day, when Christmas goes back in the box, and the next holiday can emerge.

Merry Christmas everyone!

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