Thanksgiving and Christmas 2019

I typically write here about influences (people, places, and events) in my life. As I have not written for about two months, I thought it prudent to update any regular readers about omissions in my writings. All said, our lives have been a whirlwind since mid-October (and even before).

During a Fall reunion I was greeted by one of my former classmates with the exclamation, “Good to see you. I thought you were dead!” To reassure readers of this blog and to paraphrase one of my favorite authors, Samuel Clemens, no, thankfully, I am not dead!

The whirlwind began when we sold our house in Maryland at the end of October. This was set in motion in early May when I accepted a job with Wells Fargo, N.A. The job is cited in Minneapolis, but I was allowed to work out of the Washington, D.C. office until we could relocated to Minneapolis. We got a bit of a late start on both purchasing a home in Minnesota and selling our home in Maryland. For a myriad of reasons, we decided to build in Minnesota, so we had some time before we had to move. In the meantime, we had to sell the Maryland house and gracefully exit our various obligations in Maryland.

The house sale was time consuming and frustrating. Due to some needed updates, we did not get it onto the market until June. We anticipated a fairly quick sell and planned a rental in Maryland until our new home was ready. We did not finalize the sale until the end of October, so we obviously did not have the quick sale. As a result, we had to keep the house spotless and endure numerous open houses for about four months. That doesn’t sound too bad until you consider that we needed to remove our two dogs prior to any showings and that we both were commuting daily to Washington, D.C. On a good day, that meant a one and a half hour commute each way. Fortunately, our realtor is also our best friend. She helped schedule convenient showing times and even took our dogs when we were not able. Still, it was a hectic and frustrating time, and yes, we took much less in a sales price than we were hoping.

The stress wasn’t over yet, though. Now the timing had to work out to allow us pack our household goods, transport everything, and move into our new house. Fortunately, our buyer was willing to rent the house back to us for the month of November, so we didn’t have to immediately vacate. Our new house was supposed to be ready the first week in November, but as is typical for new construction, was delayed. It was touch and go whether it would be ready by the end of November.

Almost immediately after the closing of our Maryland home, we had to start packing, not only for the move, but for a long-planned trip to Mexico. This was not exactly a vacation – it was for our daughter’s destination wedding! So, we had to quickly transition from moving mode to our roles as parents of the bride. Kathryn and Jon were married in a wonderful ceremony above the beach in Cancun on November 16th. They had fifty friends and relatives and all had a wonderful time!

Kathryn with husband Jon (and brother Jim officiating!)
Proud Papa with his beautiful daughter.

Once we returned from the wedding, our crush to pack and otherwise get the house ready for the move went into overdrive. We now had only one week until the movers picked up our stuff! As we were too cheap (and poor from both the new house and the wedding), we chose to pack ourselves. That was definitely not an easy task. I was literally taping boxes shut as the movers were hauling them out of the house!

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we set out to drive from Maryland to Minnesota. After some tearful goodbyes, we started the trek. We made it to Ohio on Wednesday night before continuing the journey on Thanksgiving day. We ultimately arrived at our new home (sans furniture) late that evening. We slept on an air mattress for two nights until our furniture arrived during a snowstorm on Saturday. Then we began the task of unboxing. We quickly realized that though we knew we were downsizing, we still shipped way too much. As of today, we are still in the process of unpacking and have multiple HUGE piles of giveaways and junk. Christmas Eve is tomorrow, but we are finally starting to feel somewhat comfortable in our new home.

Admittedly, we got lost in the bustle. Fortunately, we will have an opportunity to sit down with family this Christmas – a rarity this decade – and reset. In the Army, we used to call this “taking a knee.” During this time we need to focus on the reason for the season. For Thanksgiving, that means family. We barely made it home for that, but at least we made it! For Christmas, though, the reason for the season is reflection and recognition of what that baby Jesus, who was born in a lowly manger, means to us. God took human form and put his trust in humans to care for Him as an infant.

Jesus knows, from personal experience, what it means to love as a human and the feelings that it causes. He understands stress, such as that of moving, of leaving friends and family, and of struggling with humans and the emotions they invoke. Jesus experienced the great highs that friendship and family provide, as well as the sorrows of hate, betrayal, and the agony of human torture and death. He did all that for you and for me. His promise is eternal life. His life and his promise provide us hope in a mixed-up and hate-filled world. In Him, we can find peace. I wish you great peace this Christmas and throughout the year.

Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year!

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