This year was my very first Christmas away from my family. We were planning on going back to FL for Christmas, but since I chose to risk flying on passes instead of actually purchasing tickets, we ended up staying in GA since every flight to South Florida was completely full and we couldn't risk not being able to get back home since we both had to work the day after Christmas.
I was completely depressed and even cried for a really long time on Sunday, but by Sunday night, I started to realize that John IS my family now and even though I miss my family, I should be thankful that I get to spend another Christmas with John as my husband AND with him in town and not out flying. I spent so many Christmases alone (single) and I should be grateful that God gave me everything I wanted and more when He sent John to me.
The other thing that I realized was that we have been blessed to have a lot of John's family living close to us. We were not alone on Christmas and I am beginning to feel like I am really a part of his family (I know that I am, but sometimes I still feel like an intruder).
The best part about staying here was that John and I had everything ready so early that we were able to relax and just spend time together for the 3 days that we were planning on going to FL. We watched movies, slept in, cleaned the apartment, and went to Christmas Eve services at our church. While we were in the service (which included worship that was co-led by Candi Pearson-Shelton from the Passion conferences!) it hit me that it was the first time in about 7 years that I had actually sat in a Christmas Eve service. When I worked at FRC, the staff served at all of the services, so I was always either singing, working at the Information Table, or coordinating volunteers. While it was always wonderful to serve, I usually was so exhausted by the end that I had little energy left for my family. I was so thankful this year to be able to worship and to leave the service refreshed and not drained.
After the Christmas Eve service, we went to John's aunt's house for dinner and then went home and opened our presents from each other. On Christmas Day, we slept in and then went to John's grandma's house for Christmas Brunch and more presents. Christmas night, we ordered Pirates 3 On Demand and ate leftovers from brunch. It was so nice!!!
As much as I missed my family and wished that we could have gone home for Christmas, I really did enjoy a different kind of Christmas. I realized that no matter where you might spend Christmas, as long as you are surrounded by people that you love, you should be thankful. Christmas is about celebrating the greatest gift the world ever received and, to me, it is about celebrating all of the people that God has placed in my life to remind me of just how much He loves me. So this year, I am thankful for the additional family that I have been given and am looking forward to having another "Christmas" with my family just as soon as the flights are open!!