Trips, Fires, Holiday Spirit

Where do I begin this whirlwind of post-Thanksgiving happenings until now? Now being days before Christmas, house a mess, fall decor still around, and not a tree in sight?

My parents decided to take a trip to Asia to visit my mom’s relatives and visit Thailand as well. Days, maybe a literal day before their actual flight, there was so much political unrest in my mom’s birth country that they had to call all the relatives and airlines and let them know they could not go for their safety. This meant cancelling tickets, finding new tickets just to Thailand, cutting losses, and replanning in a couple day’s time.

So my parents exit the country, and my brother and his family enter the home for the extended weekend. Him. His wife. His toddler son. Their two dogs. We are gung-ho to clear out the darn garage for my parents as a blessing and “gift” for their return. They stay Friday through Sunday to help make that happen. On Sunday, to celebrate a clean-er garage and friendship, we had a small gathering with some close friends, soup, s’mores, and a nice fire pit. My lungs were already abused from the dust in the garage but I figured one day of a little campfire smoke wouldn’t hurt. (That became laughable. There is still smoke in the air today and my asthma flare ups remind me of it.)

Sunday night went long and so my brother and his family crashed there another night. At dinner out Monday evening, we found out a fire had broken out near my brother’s home. By the time we got back from dining, it was dangerously close to the point of possible evacuation. With their two dogs and a small suitcase already here, they braved the fire around them to collect documents, my SIL’s midwifery supplies, and a few more necessities.

Tomorrow marks a month that my brother and family has lived here. The fire has spanned over three weeks and is still only at 60% containment. It was one of many fires, and at one point, my town was sort of surrounded and also in danger of evacuation due to high winds. There were nights we hardly slept not knowing if we’d have to escape in a minute’s notice and wondering which relatives could house the four of us and the three dogs between us. Teething toddler, tired parents, worried aunt, and the homeowners out of the country all the way in Asia.

I remember packing some things for my parents and putting a carry-on suitcase together for me of belongings and thinking through the what-ifs. So much of the house’s items became so worthless in those moments. I had albums, medications, dog food, and necessities. That was enough.

Now that my parents are back, there are six of us and three dogs. My nephew is constantly getting “No!”-d at as he runs destructively through a not-baby-proofed home. I just acquired part of a baby gate to section off the oven and possibly a tree. He has no sense of schedule anymore and no safe room to play in. Dishes are piled as twice as many of us are there and in this month’s time my parent’s brought home a cold and my SIL brought home a stomach bug. It has not been easy. On any of us.

Through it all, it’s been hard to sit down and meditate on the true meaning of the season, but we are living it out just a little. A husband, wife, and child displaced from their town seeking shelter. That’s just a tidbit of the Christmas story but in it all I’ve seen love, hope, and strength.

I’m grateful neither one of our homes burned down. I’m grateful we got to be there for one another. I’ll be grateful when we both go back to our “normal.”

My priority tonight is get that Christmas tree up. I think we could all use a little cheer. Who knows how much longer they’ll be living with us as they work to clear up the smoke damage, but I’m thankful for family all the same.

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