Our last Christmas in Germany has come and gone, whether we like it or not. Now, we’re looking forward to the new year and daydreaming about where we’re heading next.
The first week of December, two of my awesome sisters-in-law came to visit, and it was so wonderful to have them here. It was cold and snowy for most of the week, and one of our favorite days was spent flying down a sledding hill near our house on fresh powder.
We sipped Glühwein at Christmas markets, went shopping and ate way too much.
Before we knew it, it was time for them to leave. Let’s just say goodbyes are not our favorite.
The next week-and-a-half was spent throwing myself into last-minute Christmas preparations, staying on top of my articles for work, and getting the boys caught up on lessons before our winter break could officially begin.
It snowed again, and we did our best to get out of the house as often as we could to shake off the effects of cabin fever.
In between, we did a whole lot of snuggling with good books. We just finished reading The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. It’s one of our favorites.
On Christmas Eve, we set our hearts and minds on the true meaning of the holiday by going to church and lighting the last candle of Advent.
Afterward, the boys helped me bake and decorate sugar cookies for Santa, and we enjoyed two of our favorite Night Before Christmas traditions – eating chili and tamales before putting on our new pajamas.
Christmas morning with the kids was truly magical. This was the first year they were both fully aware of what was going on. I will never forget their whoops of joy as they came downstairs to see what Santa had brought them. Logan trembled with excitement as he tore into the packages. It was adorable.
When our living room turned into a sea of wrapping paper, I made breakfast while Dan helped the boys put a few of their new toys together. Christmas morning means cinnamon rolls and singing happy birthday to Jesus.
That evening, we had dinner with friends and colleagues we’ve known since our time at Fort Sam Houston. Dan made our first Christmas goose, and we ate ourselves silly.
My sister arrived two days later, and we are over the moon to have her here for the next few weeks. It’s become a tradition to spend New Year’s Eve together, and I’m happy we get to continue it this year.
That brings me to 2018 and all the big changes and unknowns that are headed our way.
This fall, my husband found out his request for a consecutive overseas tour in Germany was denied. I was standing in the laundry room rolling socks when he called to tell me, and I will never forget the way my heart flip-flopped in my chest when I heard the news. All at once, a wave of deep disappointment and conflicting excitement came over me – hot and cold. Sweet and sour.
That’s the best way I know how to describe the ups and downs of military life and the strange emotions that come along with them.
I’m not ready to move; even though it took me a while to adjust, I’ve fallen head over heels for Germany, and we would love to live here for as long as possible. The thought of packing up the house, saying goodbye to our friends and having to start all over somewhere new – again – has me feeling slightly sick to my stomach. At the same time, I’m also thrilled about a new adventure.
Crazy cakes. I know.
Once we found out we weren’t staying, I did my best to put my feelings about the whole thing on a shelf for a while; we figured we wouldn’t find out where we’re heading next until January or February at the earliest. We’ve never had more than 90 days notice to prepare for a move.
It came as a huge surprise, then, when Dan came home from work unexpectedly one November afternoon slightly flushed and out of breath. When he handed me a piece of paper, it took me a few moments to decipher the military language and figure out what I was looking at. Then I saw it: Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
We’re headed to Washington State!
Neither of us has ever been to the Pacific Northwest, but Dan and I are looking forward to the beautiful scenery, outdoor activities and new adventures the location promises. We’re also relieved to know we will only be a four-hour flight from our families.
Now, Dan has been given hard copies of his orders (that means we are authorized to make preparations), and we’re already starting to check things off our list. If everything goes as planned, we only have roughly three months left overseas.
I’m still a bundle of mixed emotions.
One minute, I’m window shopping houses on MilitaryByOwner; the next, I’m bursting into tears on a random aisle at the German market as little things I’m going to dearly miss smack me right in the face.
The next few months are going to be pretty crazy, but we’ll make it through them together as a team.
In times of disappointment and uncertainty, we cling to verses like this one:
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
Proverbs 16:9, NIV
We trust God with the plans he has for our lives, and we are willing to go wherever he sends us.
After all, home is wherever we’re together.
Let’s talk! I would love to hear…
What are your family’s Christmas traditions?
What big changes are headed your way in 2018?