“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.” – Frederick Buechner
The snow had begun to fall as Marty and I loaded the pail for cloth diapers and all else in our station wagon. Two small daughters were to follow—our backseat had become their bedroom for our Christmas trip.
Almost simultaneously we asked, “are we crazy?”. The trip from our home in Southwest Missouri to my parents on the opposite side of the State was 220 miles. The roadbed was mostly two-lane as it wound through the hilly countryside and then bottomed out in the vast Mississippi River Valley.
Crazy? Me, “no, I am just homesick”—relishing memories of Christmas past and looking forward to time with family and close friends.
As we drove from west to east there was never a moment when snow was not melting on our windshield. It deepened on the highway and the few automobiles made ruts in the lanes. But, the highway—old Route 60—was largely vacant. It traversed a lightly populated countryside and we were among the few fools who had ventured out.
I can still recall the relief and welcome on our arrival. And on the way the enduring faith our young daughters had in our decision. Second doubts, yes, they trailed us as the snow deepened and we occasionally and involuntarily swerved. Our daughters, oblivious of the peril, enjoyed the scene—I can still recall the beauty as scotch pines and cedars were flocked by mother nature.
We made it before nightfall; what a relief. And Mom and Dad were gleeful—almost as giddy as our daughters. They had been anxious as there were no cell towers to relay comforting updates along the way.
In recent decades, more often than not, it has been Marty and me anticipating arrivals. Although, none as harrowing as that trip long ago. In our family, at least, the arrival of love in swaddling clothes is magic and magnetic. Merry Christmas!
Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al writes on themes from his book, Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books.