Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Traditions: Travel Edition

In the eight years that I lived in the Midwest I travelled home for Christmas for six of them. One year was missed due to one of my best friend's wedding; the other was last year as a result of excessive Midwest traveling necessary to scout out residencies. Being back this year, both for Christmas and full time, has been a great opportunity to connect with people I haven't seen in quite a while.

Christmas is a time for gathering all over the country, but when you live in Alaska and are separated from most other places by thousands of miles, Christmas truly becomes an occasion. You can't just visit Alaska for your sister's birthday or Labor day weekend, you have to wait until you have several days of vacation stored up so that you can justify the trip. After all, when it takes approximately one day's travel on either end of the visit, you'd better make sure you are staying a while. Consequently, there are lots of people that come "home" to Alaska for Christmas when they can't make it at any other time. As a result we have endless social occasions with friends and family in from out of town, our calendars full of scheduled meals and parties with those that we might not see for another year.

As the recipient of the visitors this year (as opposed to being the one doing the visiting), I find myself both more relaxed and reflective. I know these people that I know and love have come from and will go back to places and people that love them also. I can appreciate the tension of having two communities that you feel a part of, and being with one means absence from the other. Though all of us living locally plead our cases with each of them to move back, leaving behind whatever jobs/friends/training is keeping them away, I can recognize that I too spent time "outside", away from my family and the people that knew me growing up.

The busyness that comes with endless meals scheduled to be shared is a welcome, short-lived chaos. Inevitably it leaves those of us that live locally wondering why we don't get together more often, and though it ends quickly, it is celebrated long after with updated pictures and stories. Perhaps it is these visits that keep me most connected to the practice of celebrating Advent and the practiced anticipation of a visit from someone treasured, as Mary anticipated the birth of Christ. After all, these visits remind me how much I treasure those I love--both near and far.

Even though I am not doing the traveling this year, I can appreciate an occasion that warrants a visit...even if I won't see them again until next year.

1 comment:

  1. I was very happy to wake up this morning to your Christmas blog post ! Your posts make my day! Merry Christmas, Friend!