No price to the holidays

Last Christmas, I made my husband a promise. We would go to Oregon to spend the Christmas holiday with his family. It was a promise I was determined to keep.

As Christmas drew nearer this year, and the economy started to slump, I grew more and more stressed about how we’d make it to Oregon. In the end, I have to admit. The promise was kept, and a credit card is getting horribly abused.

However, as I told Craig last night: time spent with family is priceless. You simply can’t put a pricetag on this time spent. Flights. Rental car. Hotel. Christmas gifts. Gas. Food. In the end, its all just numbers on a piece of paper. Its the moments in time that you can never recreate that mean something.

Living in Tennessee, with my family in Texas and his in Oregon, we obviously are one of those families that have to struggle with, “Who do we go see this year?” We try to split it every other year, but sometimes life does change those plans. And even as I say, “its all just numbers on a piece of paper” I do admit that those numbers have dictated that we do see my side of the family more often that we see his side. ($200 round trip driving 13 hours to Texas is easier on the pocket book than $600 at best for 8 hours flight time to Oregon.) So, any time we spend in Oregon I take very seriously. I want to make sure we see everyone we can, but at the same time spend the most of our quality time with those closest to us.

Yes, here it is Christmas and I do indeed miss my family. But, I can call them any time and my Mom is GREAT about taking pictures and filling me in on the things I’ve missed by living (or just being) far away. A big part of my heart will be in Texas on Christmas Eve night when my family gathers for church and on Christmas Day when they open gifts.

However, even with that said, I couldn’t be more happy or grateful to be right where I am with my husband and his family — who have most definitely become my family as well.

So, come Christmas day, I know I will be surrounded by a lot of love, seasoned with good food, laughter, and I am sure many stories being shared by all.

For me, every Christmas is a day I wish I could just place in slow motion and make last. Hold the day close and savor every second. Because it’s definitely not about the presents under the tree. It’s about the feelings in your heart. It’s about the intangible. The things you can’t put a price tag on. The things that once they’re gone, they only exist in pictures and in memory… never to be relived the same way again.

Merry Christmas to all… I hope and pray everyone finds themselves surrounded by love and laughter on this day. Whoever you may be. Whatever you may believe and celebrate. We all deserve and need this day every year to remember what truly matters most.

Each other.

** For more photos from my Christmas trip to Oregon, visit my Flickr site. **

Travel & Vacation

I took my first flight in 2004, and since that time I have racked up over 114 hours of flight time on 53 flights. Not many for some people (ie, my husband), but a lot more than others. I like to consider myself pretty much a pro at it at this point.

Security is a necessary evil, and I don’t mind the hassle so much. The liquid rules have proven to be a frustration sometimes, and I always wear either flip flops or boots to fly due to the fact that you have to take your shoes off going through security. Books, gum and the ipod are blessings on a long flight. My poor laptop battery just won’t hold enough of a charge to be much company, though.

However, I sincerely enjoy flying, and even though I do get this “what if” fear in the pit of my stomach just before I board, I know its a safer mode of transportation than driving. Besides, whether you fly at night or during the day — the views are breathtaking!

I’ve discovered something on my last few trips that were strictly for “vacation.” I’ve discovered that I understand my parents a lot more than I once did.

I remember as a child, any time we’d go on vacation, as soon as we got to our hotel room, I couldn’t wait to go DO something. The worst torture was when we’d go to Dallas to go to Six Flags!!! Those roller coasters! They called out to me! And yet Mom and Dad wanted to stay at the room for awhile. I couldn’t understand. I couldn’t comprehend. Nap when so much fun awaited???

Now? I understand. I find myself thoroughly enjoying time spent in a hotel room with my husband. No cats begging for food. No laundry to do. No dishes to watch. I may bring some work along with me to do on the computer, but I can do it on my own time at my own pace. It’s definitely a “getaway.” Why rush off to do something that will be there later, when a nap beckons to me? It’s the beauty of vacation. No rushing.

Right now, I write from beautiful Portland, Oregon. Snow and rain seem to be our weather companion this trip, causing some concern as to when we head over the mountain to the coast. However, it’s also an absolutely gorgeous sight to this Texas-born Nashvillian. I’m excited to see friends and family, but I’m also enjoying the leisurely pace we have set for ourselves by planning a longer-than-usual stay. No cramming things into a few days. We have time for ourselves… time we can spend out sightseeing or snuggled down in our hotel room.

Yes, traveling can be very stressful and tiring. However, the end result — the destination — most often makes it all so worthwhile.