I’m writing this on December 9, 2015, but I won’t set it to post until after Christmas for the purpose of secret-keeping. You see, here’s the deal. I’m going home early to surprise my loved ones for Christmas.
I originally booked my return ticket for as late a date as I could and still actively participate in my sister’s pre-nuptial activities, thinking it would be fun to spend New Years in a foreign country. What I failed to realize, however, was that that meant I would be spending Thanksgiving and Christmas away from home as well.
Thanksgiving wasn’t actually as hard to miss as I thought it would be, since it was barely a blip in the radar of the foreign place I found myself in. I only had sporadic internet, which I hardly wasted on facebook, so if my cousins posted things about them having fun and eating delicious food without me, I didn’t see.
However, as beautiful as the Christmas markets are in Europe, I somehow think longingly of Shopper’s Jubilee, a humble Christmas market in my own cowboy hometown. But it’s not the market, see. I haven’t been to Shopper’s Jubilee since I was pint-sized, and I doubt I would have gone this year if I had stayed home. It’s the memories of walking through with the people I love, endlessly waiting for my parents to finish their conversations with the acquaintances we would inevitably run into, and a general feeling of warmth and well-being.
Anyone who has been reading my blog knows that I’ve been grappling with the question of whether aimless travel is worth it to me. I stuck with it, and I’m glad I did, but as Christmas approached, I realized that no amount of snow or novelty could replace the people I love. And I was right.
Christmas Eve and Christmas with my family was 100% worth it, and not something I would trade for all the adventures in the world. My parents and sister became a little frazzled because they had no presents for me since they weren’t expecting me home. I still don’t know if I convinced them that their presence is better than anything I could unwrap. But it’s true.
Call it the backpacker’s attitude of staying away from Things that would only make our backpacks heavier, call it the privilege of having nearly everything I want, call it the honeymoon phase of coming home where nothing seems so important as the hugs I’ve missed for months. But I can’t imagine a present that would compare to making pecan pie with my mom and snuggling to watch White Christmas, the look on my sister’s face when she realizes she’s been tricked and I’m not actually half a world away, listening to my dad read the part in Christmas Mass that he’s read for years and having him ask me when he comes back to the pew, as he’s done every time, “Was it ok?”, or doing my best to stay out of the combat zone as my adult cousins war with the nerf guns they got for Christmas while at the same time surreptitiously picking up foam bullets and tucking them in my pocket, just to make them wonder where they’ve all gone.
I had the perfect Christmas, in 75F (or 24C for you non-American types) degree weather, without a snowflake in sight.
So, a belated merry Christmas to all y’all, wherever you may be, and may you learn how to balance your adventures with your important relationships in the coming New Year.