One could only imagine my complete and utter surprise when my strict policy upholder of "no early gift opening" husband came waltzing into my office, grabbed my hand, lead me into the living room, sat me down, and announced in November that he thought we should have Christmas early. After closing my gaping jaw to follow the statement with... "what have you done with my husband?!?", he presented me a small envelope. The contents inside aimed at bringing the biggest shock and smile to my face. Knowing how much I had struggled last Christmas with being away from my family, and taking into consideration that travels might be limited once the "baby cookie" arrives, he had booked a surprise flight to travel home for the holidays.... ah ha, thus the obvious absence here.
Just about as soon as we made it in, snow seemed to follow us everywhere that we went, and cancelling several things that we had planned. I thoroughly enjoyed "waddling" to my grandmothers on Christmas day and the 20 minute walk was just what I needed to get rid of that "cabin fever" feeling that comes with being snowed in for days. It made me long for the sidewalks one finds in Germany, but most people were nestled in for the holiday and didn't bother to brave the streets on the quietest day of the year. After our first two feet of snow (ca. 60 cm!), mother nature decided that it was only the beginning. Stopping long enough to allow one of my best friends to travel up from North Carolina to ring in the New Year, she brought the most delightful "Christmas present" that was so unexpected and almost brought me to tears... my other best friend that had secretly flown in all the way from Texas!
After the holiday we drove up North to visit my godparents, bringing the snow with us. Even though watching the birds fly in and out all day long for the delectable seeds that were set outside for them, our days did not progress much past this andvisitin g and playing games. Finally landing home again, we were left with that rushed feeling... "wait a minute, we didn't...." The list grew, leaving us with the helpless feeling that you can only work so much in, in such a short time. One would think that almost an entire month is actually quite a longtim e, but when there are friends and family that you have not seen in what seems like forever, places that are non existent where you live, mixed with the need to relax a little, one could easily spend the whole year trying to do it all and still find that the time is just not enough.
I am thankful that somehow being pregnant, despite the difficulty of fitting in the airplane bathrooms, the flights were pretty uneventful compared to the past headaches, upset stomachs, sore hips, jet lag exhaustion that reminds me each time of just how old I am getting. But now is that settling in time... getting back into the swing of things in a place that I know is very familiar, but somehow still seems a little strange having left it's comforts for so long. It is also that last minute crunch time to get "the nest" ready before the little one gets here. I often think about what our family change means for traveling home... how often we can go, how it will be with kids, one's head could really spin with all the "what ifs".
... but for now, I will have to push those "what ifs" aside and tuck the memories of this past month deep in that "special times" compartment in my brain to revisit and sustain me until the next time.