Christmas is the toughest day of the year for millions of people around the world. Some folks are starving, others can't afford to buy gifts for their kids, still others spend the 25th of December crying bitter tears of grief.
Gratefully, I can't claim any of these things. My woe is simple but sore: I miss my family. Though friends surround us on all sides, there is no other time of year more equated with family than Christmas. In five Christmases overseas, I have not made it through a single one without weeping.
Though this year was no exception, some happy tears accompanied the sad ones. The sad tears came first, late on Christmas Eve.
"I just want to be with my mom," I sniffled to Daniel. "My mom and dad."
"I know, Baby," he soothed.
"I just want to be with my dearest friends. With Lou," I said, blowing my nose.
The happy tears came the next morning, in a private moment by our twinkling tree. The kids were ripping apart my careful wrapping jobs. Daniel was video taping, or freeing super heroes from the zip ties that bound them, or whatever, and I quietly picked up a package labeled:
From: Mom and Dad
My mom is not the type to run out and buy something and toss it into a gift bag. She thinks and thinks, and then shops and shops, until the perfect gift waits under the tree like a hug. This morning, while no one was watching, I opened the gift and tears welled up in my eyes. It was a beauuuutiful grass green bag, handmade by my very own Liz Sharda (Lou),
with her business logo, "Lizzy Lou Handmade" (soon to be an Etsy epidemic)
on the strap. She made it with me in mind, my mom later told me, and Mom bought it from her business, and their collaboration made my Christmas. I clutched the bag to the lapel of my dorky nightgown and I could almost feel my parents' arms around me. And I could almost feel Lou's hand giving mine a squeeze as if to say, "You're going to be alright, my friend. I love you."
And just like that, I have nothing to be sad about this Christmas.
Also, here are two random pictures of our Christmas Dinner at Subway. Someone was ready to get out of her kitchen!