'Christmas time is here...' It's officially the merriest time of the year, and I'm in full decorating mode, much to my teething baby's chagrin. But like I told him, you wait 11 months to get a tooth, then you have to deal with mom going Christmas-crazy. It's not my fault you chose the holiday season.
We just got back from Thanksgiving with family and friends. We only had about 4 hours of travel, which is kind of perfect at this stage, because it's not so long you think you might die, but it's long enough to feel like an official kick-start to the holidays. Growing up, we took some epic road trips. We had family in different states, and every other year or so, we'd make a long trek to somewhere like Michigan or Florida, via car. Once, we actually drove the entire way from Iowa to Florida without an overnight stop; it was only 24 hours or so. Easy. Dad was also notorious for leaving at some crazy hour like 4 am, but one year I remember we had church on a Wednesday night, (PKs represent! and if you don't know what a PK is, then no, you may not represent.) came home planning to finish packing so we could leave at the crack of dawn, and dad goes 'OK, we're leaving in an hour! Get everything packed and I'm loading up the van!' It took a few minutes to realize he was actually serious, and by that point we'd eaten into our hour, so we threw random underwear in a bag, and we hit the road at 10 pm that same night.
Growing up used to said car trips, it doesn't really feel like Christmastime to me until we've taken a road trip. Something about all of the cars, even the annoying traffic, and all of the people traveling for the same reasons, passing all of the same Christmas tree lots and houses with lights...it's just magical. And the license plates. I was always amazed by how many we could find when playing the 'license plate game'...we would even find the every-elusive Alaska or Hawaii on occasion! This year, looking at all those license plates, sitting in traffic on the way to my in-laws', I started thinking. (we drove two cars and my darling husband gave me the car to myself. It was glorious. I did a lot of thinking. And podcast listening. And just sitting in silence. 'Twas lovely.)
All of these license plates represent not just a state, but a person. And not just a person, but a family. And not just a family, but a story. Sure, we're all traveling in the same direction for mostly the same reason, but all of the things that brought us to that point, and what awaits us at our destination, and how we navigate it all...well, those things are as unique as each plate. They may be happy stories, or sad stories, or somewhere in the middle...but they're all different.
Sometimes, when you write or speak or share with someone, it seems like everything's already been said. Even Solomon referenced that in the Bible: 'There is nothing new under the sun.' And it's true. But what is ALSO true, is that the way we experience all of these not-new things, how they shape us, who we become...that part is utterly unique. We each have a story to share, whether with written words or spoken, by living life together or through pictures we send at Christmastime. My story is MY story, and it's completely different even than the people I call family and share my home with. Your story is YOUR story. So, during this season of gift-giving and decorating and party-attending, when it's easy to feel lost in the shuffle of it all, remember this: you have a story, and it's all your own. Own it. Share it. Or, as the kids say...You do You.