4 Things I Learned About Creating a Life in 2014

It’s a gift to have my family under one roof. I know these days will be fewer and fewer and, honestly, the almost empty nest has its advantages too, but for this year, Christmas 2014,…

It’s a gift to have my family under one roof.

I know these days will be fewer and fewer and, honestly, the almost empty nest has its advantages too, but for this year, Christmas 2014, all four of us have been under one roof for two full weeks, with two weeks still to go, and it has been wonderful.

Lindsey is in and out with her crazy work schedule, and Grant is in and out with his busy social schedule (although he’s been home more than we expected which has been a pleasant surprise) but we’re all operating from the same home base and it’s such a luxury. I’m trying to soak it all in.


I love having a guest room, but mostly I love having guests.

Up until this year I could count on one hand the number of overnight guests we’ve hosted during our marriage. It’s not that we weren’t open to it, it’s that most everyone close to us already lived in KC or had other logical places to stay. But that dynamic is changing, and this year we’ve hosted my parents, sister, and brother-in-law, who all live in Florida, my niece who is splitting her time between Nebraska and Louisiana, and a friend of Grant’s who lives in a small town four hours west of us. In fact, we’ve hosted them all more than once and I love being able to do it.

Guest room in transition

But here’s the thing about the guest room: it’s Lindsey’s old bedroom and it’s a room in transition. We’ve moved in grown-up furniture, but it still has the old (bright!) pink and blue walls and the white ceiling fan of Lindsey’s youth. I made a decision not to let the fact that the room’s not finished get in the way of having guests stay there. And guess what? No one cares. I look forward to having a guest room finished in the way I envision it, but it turns out it’s more important to have the guests.

I’m going to travel a lot in 2015.

We’re headed to Florida to see my parents, to Las Vegas with couple friends, to Miami with the kids, multiple times to St. Louis, and possibly back to Chicago in the fall. But have I told you that I don’t enjoy traveling? I know that’s not popular to say, but there it is.

To clarify a bit, I do enjoy having seen new places and making travel memories, but I’m always a little more excited on the day we come home than I am on the day we leave. Can anyone relate?

Esslingen Germany

I thought that the reason I didn’t like to travel was because I have some anxiety about it and, it’s true, I do. But lately I’ve realized that my hesitation is a lot more basic: I don’t like to be uncomfortable. Filing onto crowded planes, fighting motion sickness in the back seat of taxis, a busier than normal routine…it all adds up to being uncomfortable for me. How unadventurous is that? But again, there it is.

I spend a lot of my time and energy trying to create a home and life that is, among other things, comfortable. And traveling takes me away from that. But it’s valuable, I know. And I’m lucky to be able to do it, I know that too. There are times I say no to travel; times I honor those feelings I have around it. But more often I try to say yes, and I’ve already said yes to six times in 2015.

It’s about the lights.

We take our Christmas decorations down after New Year’s and it always feels good. Except for the lights. I miss them. This year I embraced lights as the best parts of Christmas decorations, both at home and around the city. In fact, this Christmas season took on a theme of light for me, both in big ways and small:

I took special note of a friend mentioning on Facebook that her philosophy on Christmas decorating was to “illuminate everything.” That resonated with me but I was tested by both the pre-lit garland on our living room fireplace and the lights in the urns on the front porch shorting out. I was at the stage in Christmas preparations when it would have been easier to just leave them as is, but I found myself performing emergency surgery on both. Because it’s about the lights.

Christmas Family Room

On Christmas Eve we had dinner on Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza (known for it’s lights) and Grant asked Tom to take Ward Parkway home. That turned into a last-minute detour through several blocks of homes that attracted our attention because every single house was lit up for Christmas. Those fifteen minutes were the accidental, serendipitous highlight of our night. Again, the lights.

Country Club Plaza Lights

And at a Candlelight Christmas service I heard a Christmas message about Jesus as Light as if I was hearing it for the first time. About why we celebrate the birth of Christ at the winter solstice (at least for the northern hemisphere).  About how we’re called to be that light in the world today. It’s the Light.

Lighted Christmas Urn

I’m going to keep the lights in those urns on my porch even after the other outside lights come down. And of course there are always the candles and the fire. But mostly I’ll miss all the lights at home and around the city. I guess the taking down of the lights is what makes them so special and such a good reminder when they’re back up the next year.

Here’s wishing you a very happy new year. A year of family under your roof, full guest rooms, just the right amount of adventure and, above all, light.

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  1. Two of my kids are out of the house and it has tragically been years since we’ve all been together. I can’t think of a worse feeling… I so know what you mean. The older I’ve gotten, i LOVE having guests in my house, so I get this too… And the lights, yes… Absolutely! I miss them…

  2. All 3 of my sons are out of the house, and I am happy they are independent, but I sometimes wish I could turn back the hands of time; just for a day or so, and watch them. We do get them all together sometimes, but it is usually in another city! Have one here now from Los Angeles,oldest was home for Thanksgiving,, and the youngest lives in apartment 30 minutes away, so he is here often. Wishing you a Happy New Year. I enjoy reading your blog! Keep it up.

  3. Your post really resonated with me. For the first time in 4 years, our family is together for two weeks! And our guest room is getting used. I have a son and DIL who live in Japan, and they were able to come home this year. And with our other two sons who live nearby….it’s been glorious! And you are so right…it is all about the lights…both inside and out! Hope you are able to enjoy a wonderful New Year celebration with your family! 😉

  4. The lights in our city trees are kept lit from late November until our Arts and Crafts festival in March. But even after all those months, I still miss them when they are gone. I also love the light analogy. Be a light in the world. Your words were as lovely as the photos.

  5. janpartist says:

    Kansas City has been well lit, pretty and festive this holiday season. Thank you for bringing it to all!

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