I've already written at length about how, often times, the holidays aren't what we expect (check out the posts linked below). But this year, that statement is hitting a little closer to home than I anticipated. My husband and I are flying home for Christmas and I can tell my parents are on edge about making this the best Christmas ever. It's going to be the first time the whole family is together since we moved to Florida in November of last year. The pressure is on.
But then, tragedy struck. And then struck again.
Two weeks before Christmas, one of my parents' cats went missing. They and my brother are devastated, and my heart breaks for them. They've spent countless hours searching and worrying. Many sleepless nights have been had. They are holding out hope that one day he'll come home, but it's been over a week since anyone has seen him.
Then a week before Christmas, my dad's brother passed away. It was somewhat anticipated, but no less gut-wrenching. And to top it off, this Christmas marks the tenth anniversary of my grandma's passing. Not exactly the circumstances my parents had envisioned for my first Christmas back home, no doubt.
I can just see my mom frantically cleaning on what little sleep she's had while finishing last minute gift-buying while my dad gets the spare room set up. They've been extremely apologetic that this won't be the Christmas we envisioned.
But in all their preparations, my parents have forgotten a few things. This is me they're inviting into their home; their daughter. I've seen plenty of their messiness, and they've seen plenty of mine (ask my mom about that one tantrum I threw at the library). I haven't just been there for the good times. We've weathered plenty of mess together, including more than one melancholy Christmas.
And despite all this, I still want to come home. I want to see my family. My mom didn't decide to leave me in the library parking lot (although I'm sure the thought crossed her mind) and despite a few bad Christmases and having a lifetime subscription to witness my mom's clumsiness and dad's stubbornness, I have still decided as an adult that my relationship with my parents is very important to me. I still love them. And I still love Christmas.
No, things likely won't be quite as joyful this year as we might have hoped, but we will still be together, and that's all that matters.