Laney, guest writer of this post, is my cousin, and I love and admire her a ton even though I haven't seen her since she was two, and she really isn't my cousin in the blood sense of the word. My dad and her dad adopted each other as brothers when they were just boys in Idaho, long before they even imagined having daughters. Before Laney was born her dad and mom used to visit my family in Tennessee, and we had grand adventures together making corny home videos like our Star Trek spoof where we battled enemy life forms (cockroaches). Dad used to tell his kids, much like the no pens, pencils, knives or scissors rule, not to answer the door to anyone, ever. To illustrate his point he'd say, "I don't care if Grandpa and Grandma (in Idaho) show up or Uncle Nick or your Uncle Rueben!" Well, of course, Uncle Rueben did show up one afternoon all the way from Missouri, and after very little debate we did answer the door, because Uncle Rueben was always a fun visitor. Plus, he let us raid his car trip cooler while we waited for mom and dad to join the reunion.
My whole rambling point is that sometimes you get to choose additions to your family. God encourages us to build a large tree of people who aren't simply related to us by blood. So, Laney, I wish you a very Merry Christmas, Cousin, and I hope with all my heart that you will be home with your dad, mom, sister, and brother next year. And may God bless you and all of us this Christmas, everyone!
This morning, Christmas Eve Eve, I was feeling especially homesick. Listening to tantalizing music spreading Holiday cheer, I was beginning to wish I could strangle all who sang about being home for Christmas while I was stuck on a dull gray ship in some port of Japan. Over the last few days I’ve started to grow bitter over a whole world that continues to turn even while I’m away.
Being in the Navy can be a beautiful thing with its benefits and travel. Being halfway around the world during Christmas, however, makes me question my career decision. This will make year three of being overseas during the holidays, and I would give almost anything to be home for them.
It was a nice surprise, while sulking and sweeping, to hear a buzz from my phone. My sister sent me video after video of family and friends saying hellos, and wishing I were there. I won’t confirm nor deny that the goofy messages and videos made me feel so happy that I cried like a little girl that found her lost kitten. But God's timing and my beautiful family were exactly what I needed today. I don’t know that I’ve ever received a better Christmas gift.
We talked back and forth for a little bit before I had to stop pretending to clean and actually go back to work. For the rest of the day, my smile has stuck and my mind has been clear, with an appreciation for what I do have, even though they’re halfway around the world: family who love and care about me, that haven’t forgotten about me. “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.”