There’s nothing like walking through a door into a house where people — lots of them — are waiting to hug you. Bags are whisked away to some room or other, boots get tugged off and promptly commandeered by a six-year-old cowgirl in training, food is offered; Christmas music and kitchen aromas permeate everything.
Family! Can anything else be so chaotic and so soothing at the same time?
The past week has gone by in a waytoofast blur. I’m currently sitting in my pajamas with some tea, looking out my window at a sunny sky and the Albuquerque-beige buildings of my apartment complex. Everything is quiet. Mentally, though, I’m still in northern Virginia. The view in my mind isn’t of sunshine and beige but of wintry skies, trees, and birds that teach you why the color red was invented. I’m still eating homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast, with folks coming and going from the kitchen, newspaper strewn everywhere. I’m still looking for a place to drape my running clothes that’s not already claimed by someone else’s running clothes, still cracking up at the antics of my niece and nephews, trying not to step on a toy (or a child), still trying, with limited success, to stealthily wrap gifts.
It’s a whirlwind, and it’s wonderful. The secret of enjoying vacation and family time is sometimes just a matter of choosing to go with the flow.
On the day after Christmas, I was a little out of sorts from having to say good-bye to my niece and nephews as they got ready to return to their respective homes. In short, I did not relish the idea of going for a run…but knowing the power of a run to cure an out-of-sorts kind of day, I bundled up and ventured out.
I wasn’t certain whether I wanted to keep to the dry-ish streets or brave the lake trail near my parents’ house. As I approached the entrance to the trail, my adventurous side won out, and I found myself embarking on something familiar to any runner living in non-arid territory: the slush run.
I’ll be honest: living in Albuquerque has sissified my running shoes (and, okay, me) when it comes to wet conditions. But there came a point, probably when I reached the second or third puddle where there frankly was no going around, that I just said, “Okay then” and ran straight through. I said to myself, there’s no use in being annoyed at the rain/sleet/can’t-make-up-its-mind falling on me and the slushy garbage below me. Spatter and squishiness were the name of the game, so, in the spirit of going with the flow, I played the game. I ignored the indignant shrieks coming from my shoes and instead channeled my niece and nephews, who laugh at messiness, and splashed through an extra-big puddle just for them. I had fun. I didn’t even mind later doing the shoe-drying ritual of insole removal and newspaper stuffing.
I still felt a little sadness, that old pang of I don’t spend enough time with the kids in my life. But it wasn’t nearly as bad. Spatter and squishiness, it turns out, can be a lot more helpful than perfection. And the next day, my running shoes were dry.