Seventeen of us boarded planes in various cities to travel home for Christmas and keep a promise we made to each other 25 years ago.
“Home” this year was my (Rosanne’s) youngest sister’s house in Vancouver, WA, but the location changes every year. “Christmas” this year was December 21st, but the date changes every year. What doesn’t change is the tremendous effort everyone makes to be there. And, as my reflection in the plane window screamed….we’ve been at this for a LOT of years! Mostly we gather at full count and dearly miss those who can’t make it some years.
Just “getting there” offers tales from funny to trying. Like the time my now-brother-in-law attempted to travel to Reno to meet the whole family at “Christmas”. After hearing so much about him, I eagerly awaited his arrival. My sister tracked his flight…delayed…enroute….arriving soon….too much snow….flight returned to bay area. Come on, does this guy really exist? West and East coast snowstorms, red-eye flights, surprise taxis in remote neighborhoods, and travel woes plagued family members over the years but to no avail. Promises are meant to be kept.
Twenty five years ago, my mother took her place in heaven. She was the heart of our family. Her love, humor, forgiving nature, and passion for family times and traditions made her home the “go to” place. My siblings and I knew that a visit to Mom’s meant we would see each other. Mom to seven, Mom-in-law to four, Babcia (Grandmother) to three, she kept us connected. And so, that first Christmas without her, we promised to set a date each year, rotate locations among us and gather together for “Family Christmas”. It comforted us knowing that no matter where life took us, we would touch home every year. I didn’t fully comprehend the meaning of this simple agreement at the time. Or maybe it just grew over the years as many of us moved away …..or as we retold this Christmas story to nieces and nephews who came along later and new brothers-in-law and nieces-in-law crazy enough to embrace this lively family and its Polish traditions! This year, two more will join the family bringing our full count to almost 30. My new Niece marries into this revelry in June and Mom’s first great grandchild, “Baby Girl” arrives in February. As we grow, it gets more difficult to get together, but we do the best we can.
Seventeen of us boarded planes in Vancouver, WA richer from time spent together, to return home before Christmas Eve and complete the promise we made to each other 25 years ago……to share Christmas with the “other side” of our families, celebrate our individual family traditions and to make room for younger families to create their own memorable traditions. Greg and I enjoyed Christmas with his family, as we have for many years, feeling grateful, connected and ready for this New Year.
Someone asked, “How does it feel to be living in your RV away from home during Christmas?”
“Ahhh….but we are home!”