12 days ago we were suppose to leave for an epic drive and visit to North Carolina.
Our first trip back east since we moved here. It was going to be the first time seeing the new home of Stephens parent’s. We were going to hug and play with our family and friends, walk our old stomping ground, eat at Elmo’s and visit with Tweedy (our last surviving hen). 12 days ago was Christmas. We spent weeks preparing for the trip, practical considerations to emotional ones. The plan was to leave in the wee hours (4:00 am) of the 26th of December and make it to NC by the evening of the 27th– in those 34 hours, driving the necessary 24 hours.
We planned a special, low-key morning for Christmas, followed by an afternoon at home, early fondue dinner and squeezed in there, cooking, cleaning, and packing of the car. We were greeted with happy voices that morning- excited to share that Santa indeed had left something for our dog! We did have a special, low-key, beautiful morning on the 25th. A&A admired Santa’s wrapping, choice of bows, and arrangement of gifts. We had a simple breakfast and then opened gifts together, savoring it carefully. Last year we celebrated the 12 days of Christmas (beginning on Christmas and ending on the eve of the Epiphany or King’s Day) where we found a gift each of 12 days. I loved celebrating the holiday over the nearly 2 weeks. Each day was special without the buildup (for anyone) or bust. We maintained a spirit of reverence and magic those days and while the trade-off for North Carolina was worth it, it was change.
As Christmas day progressed, so did the snow. We were aware of it, but in full denial. Like one of the girls’ books where the child is elated over the snowflakes and everyone around him says, oh, it won’t stick, it’ll melt, just a snowflake, etc. we too were in denial. We were busy I will say to our defense, but one would think after multiple trips to the car, packing and rearranging that it would have dawned on us sooner. It didn’t though. We all went to bed at 8 and fully expected to drive east at 4 am.
It was not in the plan. While we initially made the decision rather tentatively– let’s see how the weather evolves, I think we knew in our hearts it was not going to happen. Nonetheless, we would wait it out and see. Waiting it out, however, didn’t yield a different decision. Weather and roads looked bad across Colorado and Kansas. We were so utterly torn about going, staying, flying, flying later, waiting another day, staying a shorter amount of time?!?! We felt resonance with JB’s singing:
“I don’t wanna go, I don’t wanna stay, I don’t wanna go, I don’t wanna stay, I don’t know what I wanna do now. (Widespread Panic covering The Meter’s song “Ain’t No Use”
It took days to rebound, find our groove again. We joked that we should have been taking a lesson from the girls’ example. While they did have some unusual emotional moments, by and large they threw themselves into the present! The present was full of snow, so that meant climbing up hills and rolling in it, making snow people, sitting on fresh snow to see one’s snow pant pattern, sledding and so on.
Without plan nor agenda, the days provided an opportunity for us to just be. A little formless, but fully enriching. We continued our 12 days celebration with a star of spirals and nightly readings. We knit together, girls on straight needles now and Stephen, too! We had leisure dinners and snow-filled outings. I got to yoga in the morning or out for a gorgeous run (below)!
It was different than a vacation, different than going away…it felt “timeless” without start and end, a permeable beginning and end. Arlene even lost her first tooth!
Our light continued to guide us, but to our center(s), as individuals and a family. We honed in on some of the inner and outer work we’ve all desired, maybe even needed, at home. I’ve been grateful for the larger life we have come to encompass this year in Colorado, but I’ve also longed for less. I’ve learned a lot this year about myself–balancing and trying to better live my priorities and this week and a half unexpectedly bestowed time to fully bask in that searching while on our journey.
There was hiking, sledding and game playing. New Year’s Eve fun with a homemade candle holder and more games.
We took on bills, health insurance, graduate school paperwork, etc. We reorganized parts of the house, decluttered (yes!) and began tackling the monstrosity of photos on our computer. The girls played and played — without interruption! They’re like actors on a stage– setting up a new scene and immersing themselves in its storyline 100%. We had vet clinics, thrift shops (with basically everything in the living room price tagged), courier services (lots and lots of deliveries to neighbors) and so on. There was time, too to hear what they needed and time for Stephen and I to pause and discuss how we want to proceed. There’s always change and some days it is more obvious than others. Their need to exert their will, to talk things out, to be listened to, to be guided through difficult moments. Lastly, a homeschooling issue that had been percolating within me for months came to fruition– do less. Our short morning lesson will devolve and we will take on a more meandering morning. Playing together more after circle and greater time to get into our handwork, more painting, lots of baking, more singing and so forth. I want to play with them more and and trust the rest will come in time.
In Quakerism, one believes there is God in everyone, light within that we can attune ourselves to hearing and understanding. I didn’t understand what our time staying here in Colorado was going to be about, nor what I should make it BE about, but I did know that once we made our decision to stay, it was about being in the present. Over the first few days past Christmas it was clear that although we faced some real obstacles, disappointments and a major change in our “direction” we were still guided and moving forward.
Now, on the 12th day of Christmas, the eve of the Epiphany, I can’t help but laugh at the synchronicity. Our 12 days has led us to a simpler pace, clearer vision and a more grounded footing than before.