We are leaving for 2 weeks in England tomorrow, and it will be the first time we've spent Christmas away from Oregon since 1991 (the last time we went to England for Christmas). I'm feeling a bit sad about not being with my family at Christmas, but I have to admit that I've been very spoiled for all these years. We always spend Christmas Eve with my dad's extended family, and it's a very important part of our Christmas tradition. Christmas morning we open our gifts from England at home, and then we go to my parents' house for more festivities and gifts. I will miss that, but I'm looking forward to seeing Mike enjoy the company of his own family at Christmas. The last time we were in England was his dad's last Christmas alive, so we will no doubt be thinking of him and mourning the fact that he never got to meet his many (7) grandchildren.
At this time of year, it makes me revisit how many possessions we have and how little we really need. Christopher's Explorer Team (our alternative to the Boy Scouts) sponsored a needy family this year, as we have for several years straight, and bought them food and gifts for Christmas. I also think of our friends who have lost children or loved ones over the years, because this is a very difficult time of year for them. This year we are especially thinking of young 18-year-old Lenka, who is in the hospital undergoing chemo for non-Hodgkin's lympoma.
Every year, I also remember the very first Christmas we had with Christopher--he came home from the NICU just a few days before Christmas, and it was the best Christmas present we'd ever had. He was hooked up to a hefty oxygen tank, an apnea monitor, and a laptop computer, but he was home, and we finally had him all to ourselves. So I also remember all the families who have babies or children in the NICU or PICU, one of the worst places to be at Christmas.
As I'm trying to entertain my very active 1-year-old on the long flights to and from Europe, I will remind myself to count my blessings. I feel very fortunate that my children are all healthy, happy, loving, and compassionate. I have a great job I actually love, and how could I ever have lucked out to find such an amazing man with whom to share my life? My family are healthy and closeby, and we are also surrounded by a wonderful community of friends.
Merry Christmas, everyone.