Wreaths, sleds, holly, candles, angels, and all the trappings of Christmas have replaced turkey decorations. It happened before the last bite of pumpkin pie. With the shift, our words, thoughts, and reflections turn from gratefulness to joy. Perhaps it is a good thing to highlight certain words representing gifts and values during different seasons throughout the year. I do wonder if there are ones we miss along the way. I don’t recall seeing longsuffering highlighted.
Thanksgiving this year was a time of transition for our family. Our grandchildren are getting older and their college or work schedules impact travel plans and traditions. (It will be so at Christmas as well.) Our recent tradition has meant that we travel one year to one of our children’s homes in Tennessee and the opposite year we travel to the other child’s home in Maryland. But this year was one that nudged us to travel to both.
It was our Tennessee year and everyone was planning for that, but the timing of that needed to be a little different since our oldest granddaughter is a new BSN, R.N. and was working Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving night as well. We wanted to spend as much time as we could with her and her brother who was returning from college so we traveled to TN five days before Thanksgiving in order to do so.
But there was another desire in play as well. Our oldest grandson was returning from a semester abroad in Chile and we had not seen him for almost five months. He was to arrive home in Maryland late Saturday night of Thanksgiving weekend. He had his 21st birthday while he was away and we saw more than one reason to celebrate him and his youngest sister who had just celebrated her fifteenth birthday.
The challenge was the distance between their homes. It impacts how often our two children and their children can see each other. To be with either of our children means we are farther from the other. Times when we can all be together happen infrequently. It also means my husband and I spend a more than a few days out of the year traveling in one direction or another. Now that we are both retired, we can be more flexible with our travel days and time and this year so far shows that, but relationships are precious to us and none are more so than those with our family.
To make the trek between the two homes, we made reservations to stop at a hotel a bit past the halfway point of the trip. We had the confirmation in hand when we arrived mid-evening eager to relax and rest. When my husband came out to the car after checking in with the desk clerk, he informed me that he had good news and bad news. Yikes! Now what?
My husband shared that the place we had arrived using our trusty GPS with the address on the confirmed reservation was not where the reservation was. The reservation was for the same name hotel on the other side of town, BUT just as we had arrived someone had cancelled at the hotel we were at and someone had the other hotel had arrived needing a room so they simply swapped them. We not only had a room, but the rate was cheaper at this hotel. Only the Lord could have managed those little details and blessed us in the process. It felt like He was indeed winking and reminding us once again that He had us and His provision was even better than we had planned ourselves.
Transitions can be a challenge oftentimes even if they represent movement that is normal, developmental, or something positive. How we respond to them is key.
Our hotel experience reminded us that we indeed have much to be grateful for and likely miss how many small details of our lives the Lord’s hand arranges. He had not only granted us safe travel over the many miles we had driven, but also arranged for a better price on lodging even though we had followed our GPS to a different location.
It reminds me of Paul’s words in Philippians 4:4:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”