Their minivan is stuffed with children and luggage, all the paraphernalia of a Christmas well celebrated. The late December sun is too weak to soften the wind’s bite so we rush inside to wave goodbye from the window.
The kids and I wave frantically, and it is as if we are saying goodbye to good friends, to Christmas, to this entire year.
In a few more days I will look ahead, but now is the time for saying goodbye. For looking back. For remembering.
In one year everything has changed.
One year ago, I had three children and little hope of more.
One year ago, I lived in the south and grieved the loss of northern winters.
One year ago, I dreamed of a farmhouse with room for chickens and vegetables while my single, potted tomato withered in the Florida sun.
On year ago, we spent the holidays alone and wondered if we’d ever again spread a feast across the length of our dining table for a crowd of friends and family.
This year is dying, but it has left me with these gifts: four children, an old farmhouse, a large garden, and the perfect spot for a chicken coop.
And this: hospitality, community. We now live within driving distance of our dearest friends. Hardly a week goes by that we don’t hear from someone we love: “We’ll be in Pennsylvania. Can we come and see you?”
I live in a Victorian farmhouse with several acres of land, but the fields all around have been parceled into home sites. Now that the leaves have fallen I can look out of my windows and see houses. I don’t yet know who lives in them, but one day I will. One day, their children will run up the hill and through the break in the fence to play with mine. One day, I will wave hello through the line of trees with an invitation to help pick blueberries. Or apples. Or tomatoes.
One day, one day, one day …
This is the greatest gift of this year: I have been brought to a place with a future.
In other words, I have been given a home.
“I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.”
Jeremiah 32: 40-41