Last year, my family was living in the state of limbo that a move across state lines represents. The heart that had been contracting and expanding to deal with the many emotions of leaving the familiar to venture into what I had primarily explored in photos taken on my husband’s phone, was pumping away the last bits of farewells that it could handle.
Knowing that the move would take place the week prior to Christmas, we did not cut a tree to trim; we could not decorate the house as it had to be kept “show-ready” for any potential buyers to come by; we did not host any parties of partake in the majority of OUR traditions. Those traditions that we had been so fortunate to forge by ourselves, as one of the great benefits of being a couple of foreigners who made a home in a new land.
Aside from the sadness that not being able to really take a part in the festivities at home leading to last year’s Christmas like closing on two houses -one sold and the other purchased (without me even seeing it), controlling my emotions so that the children could find solace in me, and the many emotional and deeply touching good-byes, made for a whole lot to handle in such a compressed amount of time.
We did get a tree that ended up traveling with us from Michigan to Pennsylvania, making all the pit stops. And the very evening we moved, my husband got us a real tree from a parking lot we drove by. However, the emptiness of the house with the solemnity of its cream color walls and its lack of personality, made for a sad Christmas. At least for me, tired of caring for everyone’s emotions by hiding my sadness. Christmas Eve everything just hit me at once and I think that was the very day that my mourning for Michigan started.
That feeling would not leave me for a while as the anticipated transition surprised me by lasting so much more than I would have preferred. I did learn, however, that like a tea that needs to steep to soften and release it flavors, I too needed to give time to my emotions to soften before I could grow from the experience.
Now exactly a year later, I can look back and look at the obstacles that we overcame as a family and as individuals. I can see the friendly smiles that have help us find a place along with many new experiences that we have had the opportunity to live. We have settled enough to feel like we have made a home.
This home needed to be decorated for Christmas so this year, our friends took us to a place to cut our tree, we baked our traditional spritz cookies to give away, we got out the window clings and the wreath, we sent and are receiving holiday cards, we even took out that darn Elf on the shelf early… Many things have found a place in our new lives, many others are yet to do so and we also have made room for new traditions such as singing along to the organ at the botanical gardens with friends.
As I look back, we came here for adventure and change and I think we have gotten quite a bit of both.