If there’s one thing I hoped everyone learned from 2020, it’s the value of loved ones and togetherness. Many people have been hindered from seeing their loved ones due to the pandemic. Some aren’t even able to travel abroad to be with loved ones. The value of family and friends has never been clearer. We are finding creative ways to stay connected to loved ones via technology but in all truth, it cannot replace the joy of a warm, comforting hug. A smile is brighter when it is seen in person and love and affection is so much sweeter when it comes from a physical embrace. For someone like me whose love languages are quality time and physical touch, a pandemic is really a struggle because in many ways it encumbers the ability to fulfill these languages, to both express and receive them. But I have done my absolute best. All you can do is make the best of the situation at hand. On top of all that, being 2,000 miles away from my family has been a struggle in its own. Distance plus a pandemic at times made me feel very isolated and disconnected from loved ones back East but it’s also made me appreciate those precious moments together more than ever. Togetherness is the most important thing in the world.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to spend 10 days with my family back East for the holidays. My time off was approved and I received a negative test before my flight- good to go! I flew out on Christmas Eve, sharing the skies with Santa himself. My flight was only 50% full and there was plenty of space to distance, the airport was also desolate. And I have to say, I was SUPER impressed with how Denver airport had decorated the terminals, lots of cheer and spirit all around. The only concern with my flight was the terrifying landing in Philadelphia. And boy, was that a landing to remember! The weather there was horrendous. Extreme winds and rain. I’ve never experienced turbulence like that in my life. I kept picturing that scene in “Day After Tomorrow” where the plane is shaking everywhere and Jake Gyllenhaal is absolutely in a state of panic. That was me but the mask concealed my terror and clenched jaw. I had that moment where I thought to myself, am I REALLY about to die in a plane crash on Christmas Eve? Seriously? You couldn’t see out the window so I couldn’t even tell we had landed if it weren’t for the thump of the tires hitting the ground. Our white knuckles unclenched from the seats for a moment to allow us to thank our amazing pilots. Thunderous applause erupted to drown out the loud noise of the rain pounding on the exterior of the aircraft as it had been a true Christmas miracle we had landed safely. Thank heavens!
When I got off the plan, I witnessed something that really pulled at my heartstrings and really reminded me of how precious quality time with family is and the deep impact the pandemic has left on family connections (most especially long-distance ones) and the emotional toll it has taken. Two little girls were flying solo on the flight, separately, to spend the holidays with their family back East. One reunited with her Dad and the other with her grandparents. You could tell neither child had seen their family members in a long time by the emotional reaction shown by the kids and their families. The first little girl exited the plane and ran to her Dad who scooped her up. You could see the joy in their reunion and it made me cry because I wondered, how long they had been unable to see each other with travel restrictions happening? The second girl ran to her grandparents and they hugged for the longest time, her grandparents were so incredibly overjoyed. These beautiful reunions made me even more excited to see my parents. But of course, it is Philadelphia and it is the grumpy Northeast so the beautiful, joyful Christmas magic was soon replaced by a lot of honking and yelling at the pick-up area outside the terminal. Here it is, 20 minutes to Christmas and people are yelling and cursing and laying on the horn. That’s a Northeast Christmas for ya! But even the road rage couldn’t kill my Christmas buzz. It felt good to be with my parents and sister again.
I had a wonderful time with my family. We mostly stayed in at home which honestly I really loved. Just hanging out with my parents at the house I grew up in, watching movies, talking, snacking, drinking wine and indulging in the simple joys of life. Just enjoying being together was perfect! We did leave the house for a couple fun activities, though.
As a family of winos, we not so shockingly took a family visit to a local winery in South Jersey called White Horse. We got a great table outside on the patio (which we had all to ourselves) with a super cozy space heater and wonderful views of the vineyard. We shared a fancy charcuterie board that was like a work of art and I almost didn’t want to disturb and had 3-4 glasses each. I tasted all the colors of the wine rainbow. We had a great time! We also visited a drive-thru Christmas light show in Swedesboro which was fun and festive and my Dad was there to entertain us all with his hilarious commentary. He always offers comic relief! One of my favorite things we did together as a family was we went down to Cape May, NJ for the day. I absolutely adore Cape May. Such a cute Victorian beach town in South Jersey. We explored the historical area and even got to walk on the very cold and VERRRRY windy beach before our fingers froze. We found the most adorable Swedish gift shop in town, they had tons of amazing Scandinavian Christmas trinkets and Mom and I went a little nuts there. We had a wonderful time just walking around admiring the gorgeous Victorians and the Old World style Christmas decor. It was a relaxed, enjoyable day trip (all safely executed, no worries!). We do take the current situation with the pandemic seriously and are committed to the safety of the family and others as well so social distancing and masks were fully embraced and utilized. Just a PSA!
It is always hard to leave my family, but we honestly had a wonderful visit and it didn’t fly by too fast. Despite the state of the world, it was a great Christmas and I cannot complain. On paper, 2020 should’ve been an awful year for me. I moved out for a fresh start 2,000 miles away just 2 months before the pandemic hit. I lost my new job a month in due to the shutdowns. Financially, I was strapped and struggling. I was disconnected from family and friends through physical distance and the pandemic restrictions. There were tons of moments of extreme stress and depression. But in all honesty, it wasn’t the worst year of my life at all if you can believe it. Because even with those nerve-wracking, insane moments of doubt there were more moments of joy and love I have to say. I did a lot of amazing things in 2020. I expanded my horizons and found great courage I never knew existed within me. I found a new job I love and have financially rebounded. I have met some fantastic people. I’ve fallen in love with Colorado completely and with life out here. I know more than ever that this is where I belong, that I am exactly where I am meant to be. And I feel a huge relief and confidence in my heart that incredible blessings and experiences are unfolding for me out here. I will forever love and appreciate all my connections back East but am also looking forward to manifesting new, equally amazing connections out here. I feel that better days lie ahead for me without clearly seeing what those things are, they’re there though! In many ways the past year has been a blessing to me, a blessing of growth and self-reflection. I’ve grown so much both spiritually but also mentally and emotionally. I’ve learned a lot about myself and worked on myself mind, body and spirit.
As I quickly approach my one year anniversary of living here I can honestly say it’s been a great journey so far. I choose to focus on the victories and blessings of the year and I see the struggles and challenges as opportunities to appreciate and focus on the good things. You can either focus on the light or the dark side of life- happiness and gratitude are choices. I’ve been fortunate but my heart goes out to all those who have been through so much this year. My struggles are nothing compared to what many have endured and I never want to lose focus on the fact many have suffered and are still struggling and they deserve all the support and compassion from the world. Yes, stay hopeful and have faith, but we should never allow toxic positivity to take hold and make us forget to acknowledge the struggles of others or lose our compassion for them. We can be grateful for what we have but we must never lose on focus on what others are going through and we must never turn a blind, uncaring eye to it. We need to look out for one another and we need to look out for others’ health no matter how healthy and invincible we believe ourselves to be, we need to look outward. But at the same time we cannot let fear dominate our lives as easy as that may be. There are moments where we are in survival mode and that is normal but eventually we need to learnt o live, meaning enjoy life again and the simple pleasures it holds by embracing them and noticing them. I appreciate the good wholeheartedly and hope for blessings abundantly on those who have truly been through more than they deserve recently.
But I believe with every fiber of my being, good things are ahead for so many.