There’s no place like home for the holidays. But we don’t have one.
We sold our house and were supposed to move into our new one a week and a half later. But that day came and went. The anticipated closing date kept getting pushed back. Again. And again. And again. And again.
And just like that, the holiday season was upon us. Everyone’s getting their tree. Everyone’s stringing their lights. Friends and family are planning cookie exchanges and holiday parties. But not us. We are living out of suitcases. We are purchasing winter coats, and mittens and hats, because well, this living situation was supposed to be temporary. And all of our belongings—snow boots, decorations, ugly Christmas sweaters, “Belle” our Elf on the shelf—all tucked away in storage.
My family of five is split up in two locations because of distance and amount of space. My husband has our older two at his parents’ in New York and I am with the baby at my sisters’. We meet on the Merritt Parkway rest stop each weekday morning where my husband hands off the older two so I can bring them to school and he can head to work. We exchange quick kisses and hugs. I herd the kids into my car handing off granola bars (second breakfast, of course), while my husband opens the door to rub and kiss the baby’s head from within his carseat. This exchange has become so routine that now every time I park, my 17 month old squeals “Dada” because he thinks he’s going to see his Dad.
And we’ve had to simplify and streamline our lives. Cutting out extra curricular activities, volunteer commitments, and social gatherings because right now, life feels chaotic enough. And with three small children, we’ve had to call on others to make our situation work. Because there are too many moving pieces. Because it does in fact, take a village. Neighbors, parents, sisters, and friends all helping out in any way they can.
But this has been our life for longer than we agreed to. This whole process has been frustrating and maddening, but now, well, it just feels sad. It makes me sad for my kids who get shuffled from here and there. Who have later nights and earlier mornings. Who spend way too much time in the car and miss out on fun activities because we are just trying to get by. It is sad because my kids miss having their whole family together at the end of the night.
This time feels hard. For ourselves and for our children. But within all this chaos, I have also found clarity. I’m reminded how lucky, and thankful, and blessed we are to have family and friends step up in our time of need. Things could be better, but they could also be worse. We have clothes to wear and food to eat. We have cars that drive us. We have people who care about us. We have the means to get through this difficult time. Our family is healthy and safe.
There is no place like home for the holidays. That is for sure. But this holiday season I am learning home is where my family is. This season they are home to me.