800 Miles from Christmas

The turkey has been roasted and the stuffing is now just a memory in my mind and a good feeling in my stomach. Thanksgiving has past and now it’s time to get back to work.

After moving to northern Michigan to work as a graphic designer 2 months ago, the Thanksgiving holiday for me was especially interesting after a long 12 ½ hour drive to Omaha, Nebraska, to see my family and enjoy a much anticipated Thanksgiving dinner.

As a 23 year old single male I don’t eat much, and I rarely decide to cook a full course meal, so you can understand my excitement. However, there is a downside to this story.

As I said my goodbyes and began the drive back to Michigan at 3:00 am Sunday morning, I realized something that would be the deciding factor of my Christmas holiday experience. There was no way in the world I was driving another 1,600 miles (back and forth), spending another $200 for gas, or experiencing another lonely Midwest country drive in the next 30 days to visit again for Christmas. You may be asking, “Why not fly?”, but as I mentioned I just started a new job and the bills are tight; the road is my only option at this time.

Needless to say I will not be singing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” this year. Instead, for the first time I will be spending the holiday by myself in a studio apartment. This is intriguing while at the same time scary because I am use to spending Christmas with a family of 12, opening presents, and helping to put up lights on the tree. Unfortunately, this year I will wake up and say Merry Christmas to myself.

In an effort to make myself feel a little better, I started thinking about some of the good things involved with spending Christmas away from everyone I love. First off, I’m in northern Michigan where it snows like crazy during the holidays (so I’m told). Maybe this year I will finally see snow fall on Christmas Eve, just like in the movies. In Omaha it always snows way before or long after Christmas and you lose the whole feeling. Secondly, I’m sure my family will feel sorry enough for me that they will ship some pretty nice gifts my way to make me feel like I’m right there with them!

With all joking aside, there is a lesson here. Moving away from home to begin a career is common. I’m sure there are other people spending their first holiday season alone this year. Moving to northern Michigan has reminded me to cherish every moment spent with family and friends. So for everyone who has the privilege of spending Christmas with your loved ones, remember to take advantage of it and milk that time for what it’s worth. For all those people away from home… remember it will only make us stronger.