The calm after the holiday storm

Every year In December I Know there is a storm coming. That's because the "kids" make plans to come home for the holidays.

Let me not sound joyless. I eagerly await the unshaven face of my son, his tense gentleness, and his generosity of spirit and intellect.

I melt at the sight of my buoyant, beautiful daughters, as well as at the button noses and squishy faces of my small, sweet grandchildren. I make way for the big, fluffy bags – spilling over with prepackaged juices and wipes – that accompany them.

When they visit, it's always a joyous homecoming – but a storm nonetheless. The "kids" don't come in like a picture on a Hallmark card and stay just long enough. Instead, they come seeking a warm, safe place where food is plentiful, delicious, and prepared by someone else – someone who loves them.

They come eager to hold your attention, to tell you all about the angst of their lives, and to seek counsel.

They set up their usual lives in the midst of your previously too-quiet, too-big house and tune the TV to morning cartoons and late-night DVD rentals.

And as in a real thunderstorm, I sit and wait it out. I watch it with awe and wonder, challenging myself to enjoy what I can't control. The storm flashes, blows, sweeps gentle rain over our lives – and finally blows away.

Just as with a rainstorm, it temporarily changes our surroundings – afterward, all the colors seem much more intense for a time.

But now that it's January, our lives have faded back to bland quiet – until next year.

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