This Christmas the crew loaded up the twelve-passenger van on Christmas day and headed to Nashville. In years past, we have always gone the day after Christmas. My brother usually spent the day with my parents on Christmas Day and then we would arrive shortly after. This Christmas we did things a little differently. Shortly after the presents were opened and the children had a little time to examine the things they received we headed north.
Oh, how I love this trip. Having lived in the state for many years and traveling that road more times than I can count, I have it memorized. The roll and beauty of the land greet me as I travel and if I listen closely I can almost hear the mist rising from the mountains calling my name.
When I was just a small child, my dad and I would jump on the back of a motorcycle and ride through those Tennessee Mountains every weekend. We also canoed down her rivers and played in her forests and creeks. Perhaps that is why it stirs up something deep inside when I-75 turns and she stands tall to welcome me.
Perhaps it is also because that is where my family’s ancestry takes me. Many people I never knew, who came before me, are buried in her soil their bodies have returned as dust of the earth.
That is where I find my mind wandering Christmas Day 2009 as the mountains came into view. This year we would open presents at my parents then load up the van again to visit one whose body was placed in the ground during the spring of the year. He would not be coming to the house this year on Christmas Day. We would be going to where his body lies beneath a cold gray headstone, but where he is not.
He was my only sibling, six years younger. He was born and shattered my only child world, but I loved him. We would talk or text a few times a year and see each other at Christmas. I regret getting busy and not talking more than we did, so today’s habit is to remember to call your family, even if they do not call you, even if you are too busy. Call them because you can. It is one habit that you will not regret.
Origninally posted January 2010.