This year has been a wild ride, and a struggle for nearly every person out there. Most of us are spending the holidays without our loved ones and it is incredibly hard. Our family was no exception, and for the second year in a row the kids would miss seeing their daddy at Christmas. As a military family, we are used to him missing out on holidays and such, not being able to see him/speak to him when we want to and just generally missing him (although it still sucks). Something about the way this year went had me determined to do whatever it took to give the kids their daddy this year. So, I did what I had to do, and made it happen.
Sometime in November we found out that he could only travel a certain number of miles from his location. So, I picked a city and we made a plan. Our family would meet in Savannah, Georgia and we’d spend the five days leading up to Christmas together there. Once December rolled around we did what we had to do and quarantined, tested and took every precaution necessary. The trip for us wasn’t all that long, although I can honestly say that I’m not a huge fan of driving, and bridges scare the crap out of me, so it was certainly an adventure. The look on their faces when they finally saw daddy after six months was well worth every moment though. That alone might have been enough for them, but I did bring a selection of their gifts with us as well and they were able to have a small Christmas celebration with daddy.
The city of Savannah is beautiful, and there is so much to see and do. I only planned a few things we had to see when we got there, and everything else we gave a “go with the flow” mindset to. Flannery O’Connor’s house is located in Savannah and is open to tour, which is one thing I had truly wanted to see. She happens to be a favorite author of mine, and I highly recommend you check out her work. Sadly, we weren’t able to get inside but my daughter and I made sure to take a few extra photos of the outside. We also made sure to stop by the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low and the First Girl Scout Headquarters in America. We quickly learned that you had to be careful which way you turned because not every street was full of quaint shops and restaurants (oops).
River Street is something that many people highly recommended we check out while we were there. It’s definitely a beautiful walk along the river with various shops and restaurants. The streets, the walls, the river, the old buildings and alley ways; everything was just beautiful to look at. There is plenty of culture, music and laughter all along the walk. Even with COVID there were people safely milling about with their masks on and sanitizer handy. I was actually quite surprised at how crowded the city appeared to be with everything going on. I thought the stores and restaurants did a great job at keeping everyone safe and limiting the number of customers at a time, etc.
One of my favorite spots in the city was E. Shaver Bookseller, the most charming and never-ending bookstore I’ve ever encountered. As they were limiting the patrons in the store to six at a time, you had to wait outside, sometimes for quite awhile. Once you entered and walked around the seemingly endless rows of books, it didn’t matter. It was like walking into a different world and one that I could’ve spent hours in. Oh, and Chocolat by Adam Turoni was incredible (I certainly went back a few times).
We also took a trip to Tybee Island to see the coast and the lighthouse. We made sure to walk through Forsyth Park and take in all the beautiful homes and buildings. We ate at some of the most incredible restaurants, had some delicious food and some highly recommended but not very tasty food (sorry Paula!). Even though I could sit here and go into great depth about all we were able to see and experience, the trip was about being together as a family for the first time in six months, and that’s something so much more than words and photos.
If there is one thing that I’ve learned a few times over this year, it’s that nothing is promised to us. Every moment leading up to this opportunity: every painstaking day in quarantine with three kids; every swab of the nose and subsequent tears; was made so worth it once we were finally together. There is a sense of magic to experiencing things for the first time with people you love, and in a year so full of bad times, a little magic is just what we needed. Even if we ended up in the hotel room because of rain, we were happy and full of love just by being together.
But of course, all good things must come to an end, and two days before Christmas we officially said goodbye again and made the journey to separate destinations. It’s certainly not the same, and even though we were able to FaceTime on Christmas morning and be “together”, there is a sadness within me not having my husband here to share in the joy. There is a sadness in my children not having their daddy here to enjoy the day and play with them. But we carry on, because we have to. And so to you, this is my reminder to enjoy the ones you love (even when you don’t want to) because time isn’t promised to any of us.
Whatever you celebrate, and whoever you choose to be with today (and all days), I hope that you have the most wonderful and joyful time full of love and laughter. May your days be blessed and the last week of this awful year be the best and brightest yet.