The movers arrived; a band of brothers in matching red T-shirts, rustling packing paper and ripping long strands of clear tape. A city of cardboard was erected in our home as we watched the color drain from our surroundings.
Art, carpets, toys, and belongings were dismantled and packed away, stripping the house down to brass tacks. Biscuit, our Golden Retriever, and I both vacillated between moments of zen and anxiety, unsure of where to go, feeling a bit homeless inside our own house.
To foster a sense of normalcy while changing houses, schools, friends, and countries,(especially for our nine-year-old son, Ramsay), we have made it a point to set aside certain ingredients and supplies to do fun things: make s’mores, bake cookies, make art with leftover food coloring, watch Christmas movies.
Once the moving truck was loaded (protected by guards to prevent theft), our life in boxes drove away and we took deep breaths and prepared to ride this wave of transition. We have chosen this life, embracing this lifestyle in the foreign service; supporting American ideals abroad, helping developing nations while enjoying their cultural wonders, experiential travel, and interesting places and people.
The moves and farewells, though, every few years, are the tough parts. Eight months from now, we’ll be excited to resettle into a new house and community in Libreville, Gabon, after living in temporary housing for several months, (yet to be assigned in Virginia), while attending the Foreign Service Institute for French.
I feel a twinge of envy when I see cozy homes preparing for Christmas with pretty decorations as our bare space has been pared-down, like leafless branches in Winter. But then I remember, in the trunk of our car, I’ve saved our beat-up old Charlie Brown Christmas tree to enjoy until we leave.
Loved for a decade, this little tree has survived three international moves. With its warped shape and glued parts, it looks worn down like the Velveteen Rabbit. I bring it inside and plug it in, smiling at the glow and instant warmth it gives to the room.
In a few days, we will lock the doors, donate whatever we can’t carry, and anticipate our next adventure. For now, left behind here in Honduras are just our suitcases, a few pieces of Embassy furniture, a handful of Legos, the books we are reading, and this brightly shining tree, its light reminding us there is beauty in simplicity.
Have you ever moved during the holidays?
However you celebrate this time of year in your part of the world, may it be full of joy and health.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and abundant blessings to you and yours.
Sending Holiday Magic and tail wags and a kiss from Biscuit,
A soulful explorer living an inspired life
Peace and love to you and your beautiful family! You KNOW what is important!
Jerolyn Carroll (Emily’s mama)
Thank you! Merry Christmas to you all!
Absolutely delightful narrative, Tracy. I would say something flattering but it flatters–shines–on its own, captures a moment in time that in its simple simplicity is beautiful.
Who ever wrote about moving so eloquently? It must have been Dickens, no Hemingway….
Thank you, George, for these kind words. You and Sharon have raised an amazing son who exemplifies grace and resilience under pressure. Love to you both. ❤️
Thankfully I’ve never had to move at this time of year. But I find it challenging how quickly the season bears down on me in the year of a move, when I’m always still stuck feeling like it’s still late summer and I’m still moving in!
Best wishes for the challenges ahead to go smoothly, and moments of comfort and familiarity in the transitions!
Thank you for the wishes! I am looking forward to being on the other side of this international move and with family in the US soon! Very happy holidays to you!
Every move we make is right around the holidays 🤦♀️
I’m feeling for you guys during this season of FS life. Happy travels home!
Thanks, Vienna! Merry Christmas to your family and we look forward to reconnecting at some point when our locations match up!’oxox
I sense the melancholy in your beautifully crafted words honey. What a strange time to be moving, indeed. And then there is the great joy in knowing that, when you move to Libreville we will only be an hour apart. Wishing you a peaceful journey back to the states and love in the season xo
Tracy! It was my good fortune to have found your writing in my inbox. I was moved by your sharing and felt connected to your journey and in awe at the same time. Sending you and your dear family love and wishes for a smooth transition in this series of next moments in your journey. I will be thrilled if one day I am able to see you in person.
Chene, thank you! Very best wishes to your family also, and I, too, hope our paths will cross soon. 😘
Love your eloquent writing! Will you be coming through ATL on your way to Columbus? Maybe we could meet for a meal? Would love to catch up since our last visit was lightening speed….lol.
Another great update on your life and times. I am impressed you are making moving and the chaos a joyful even. I know an empty house looks so desolate but it won’t be for long. I also love the idea of the s’mores. I can share if you like. As for the guards, I see what you mean. Gad… I would feel a little uncomfortable but safe. Good job with your life skills and your writing.
I was just introduced to your blog… lovely article. : ). I hope you and the family continue to enjoy the spirit of the season in each other’s company while you transition!
What an amazing adventure you are on with your family. I have learned over the years that home is where I make it…and it is also hard to say goodbye along the way.