We've said it before, Jason and I, how different it feels to have a house at the Family Farm. (By way of reminder, we spend our weekends living in my grandma's old house in Washington, whereas we spend our weekdays living in an apartment in Oregon.) We drive up there, park our car in the carport, unload our bags, and walk into the house which suddenly transforms into "home."
There's our milk in the fridge. Our mail on the counter. Our clothes hanging in the closet. When we get tired there's no prolonged goodbyes with family and then making the hour-plus drive back to Salem. We simply brush our teeth, and go to bed.
To be sure, it's not always easy because sometimes the milk is sour, and sometimes the clothes get left at the wrong house. But our families are an ocean of hospitality as they feed us, the guests who never bring anything to the table. And my mother-in-law has taken it upon herself to clean the house during the week while we're gone because, as she says, "It makes me feel better knowing that I'm helping you." Saints, all of them.
Sometimes it feels a little weird, like we're in a vacation house except...not. Or like we're visiting, except...not. But most of the time--especially now that the holidays are upon us--it feels like a relief. No dividing up the hours between the families, or trying to get a child to take a nap in an unfamiliar bed. We're already there, in our temporary part-time home dreaming about the days when our permanent long-term home will be built (and by way of reminder on that, we're breaking ground the beginning of spring).
And so when my sister and her friends drove in Thanksgiving morning after the 20-hour drive from Colorado, we were there to hug bleary-eyed her. Her friends no doubt thought she and I were crazy as we alternately made faces and meowing noises at each other. And though I spent a lovely and delicious Thanksgiving meal with Jason's family, there was no rush to squeeze in a few hours with my sister before we made the drive home. I just got to hang out with her and figure out exactly what those lyrics are to the first song in Beauty and the Beast. "Bonjour!" we all sang loudly, late at night, no worries at all about where the girls were sleeping.
For as stress-inducing as a the dual-living was for the first couple months, the arrangement will more than makeup for itself during Christmas. As soon as Jason goes on Christmas break, we'll be off, headed up to our Washington home, where we will start to learn exactly how it feels to spend the holidays right next door to our family instead of navigating multiple hour-long trips. There will be new traditions, and traditions that will skip this year because so much of life is boxed up, waiting to be revealed next year in a new home.
Even though I fret about how they're adjusting, somehow the girls never worry about how life is at the Family Farm, even if Sydney wondered the other night, "How will the angels know where to watch over me?" "They just know," I said. "But how?" she asked again.
"Because," I said as we both drifted off to sleep, "wherever we are, God is."