This year, heading home for the holidays from college is something that I look forward to and feel anxious about at the same time.
I’m looking forward to seeing my mom again. She was the only parent I’ve known for most of my life, since my dad died when I was 3.
Over the years I know that she must have been sad around Christmas but she never let on that she was. Mom always made it a very special time of the year for me.
Both of us were also fortunate to have my grandma and grandpa living close by. It made for a small but very happy extended family.
As a child I loved Christmas with my family. Every year we would take out the wooden Advent calendar that my grandpa made. It was filled with all sorts of surprises — pieces of candy and small wooden toys. There were new ones each year. Every morning my mom and I would get up and count down the days.
About a week before Christmas my grandparents would take my mom and me tree hunting. It was quite an adventure in the pine forests of northern Michigan. Spotting the perfect tree and helping chop it down made the day special.
Caroling and snow, weekday Advent services, stringing cranberries and popcorn to hang on the tree, the overhead lights going down at church on Christmas Eve with only the lights on the tree lit while we sang “Silent Night” — that is what made my childhood Christmas.
But this year I am anxious about going home. In June my mom remarried and now what used to be a two-person household has expanded to seven people: my stepdad, his three daughters and one son.
We’ve never had a young boy living in our house before. There are bathroom issues.
My old bedroom is surreal. There are now three new beds and the walls are pink. My room is pink and it has frills, I’ve never been a fan of pink and I’m a no-frills kind of girl.
I do have a place to rest my head. All my stuff is crammed into what used to be my mom’s sewing room. It’s much smaller than what I was used to, but I’m not home much and they did need the room. I really can’t complain, but it feels strange.
Right now I am feeling sort of blue. I feel like I have outgrown my house; I’m a little too big for the sewing room/bedroom. Everything has changed dramatically.
It’s not just the situation at home. College has had a huge impact on me.
I know I am not the same person who left home four months ago. I am much more independent. I now make my own decisions and pretty much come and go as I please.
I haven’t really kept up with my old friends. Sure, we chat sometimes and send texts, but it’s not the same as being with someone every day, having shared experiences. I look forward to visiting all of them but we have all gone in different directions.
I guess when I really think about it I’m scared more than anything else.
I am happy for my mom, don’t get me wrong. I know that she has found someone special to share the rest of her life with.
I’m just scared.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Jesus’ family. His mom must have been scared too. Her whole life changed drastically and she didn’t even have the foreknowledge that I had about going off to school.
Mary was taken away from everything she had ever known. She was visited by an angel, changed physically, newly married, gave birth in a barn and all before she was the age most girls now go off to college.
I guess I really shouldn’t be so anxious. I have a family who loves me and the gift of Christmas, thanks to a scared little girl named Mary. And that Christmas gift never changes.