As you read this, I'm finishing up my packing and making all of the final preparations for my flight later this evening. I'll be off to the usually snowy north country of Michigan to spend a week of togetherness with my children and some other extended family.
If you have been paying attention to my contributions to this space for any length of time you will remember that my son and his wife live in the suburbs of Grand Rapids. Recently, they purchased a new home, much larger than the one they had occupied for the last 10-plus years, and this is their first Christmas in their new space. Hence the invitations went out to his sister, brother-in-law and nephew; dear old dad, of course; and his now adult stepson to come and spend the holiday week.
For those who may not remember, my daughter and the family live in Alabama. Incongruous as it may sound, they are a hockey family. My grandson is starting goalie on an elite travel ice hockey team that plays all over the central tier of states from Alabama up to Michigan and occasionally in Canada. As luck would have it, they were in Dayton, Ohio, over this past weekend so had only a relatively short trip to the new place. I was planning on making the somewhat arduous 10-hour-or-so drive across the Pennsylvania and Ohio turnpikes but after some discussion, I was presented with my Christmas gift: my round-trip flight reservations.
Our family is small and will eventually be smaller as the last of the line are my two infant and toddler grand-nephews, so any opportunity for us to be together is savored by all. I've not seen my son since his annual visit in June and my daughter and the crew were here for the Fourth of July. We talk at least once a week, but I think that you'll understand how much I miss being able to have them near as a regular part of my life.
If your family is geographically close, treasure the opportunities that such nearness offers. Get together as often as possible for a Sunday dinner or weekend breakfast. Attend the grandkid's activities, games, plays, concerts or whatever. Be there for them … and yourself.
If you are in my camp where the family is spread out all over the country, or even abroad, make the attempt to speak as often as possible. Whatever the case, make sure that you say "I love you," as the last words of the conversation.
May you all have a very Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.
Bill Kennedy writes every other Monday from Taneytown. E-mail him at email@example.com.