“What do you mean you won’t be home for Christmas?” A pause. “Who’s Alexis?” Another pause. A long one.
My wife was on the phone with Trevor. Trevor, who has been at WSU since the end of August. We saw him on parents weekend in September but the actual time spent together to find out how our son was adjusting to college life was minimal. I knew Beth was thirsty for more time with our oldest so it didn’t surprise me that she was responding with less grace than is characteristic for her. Heck, who was I kidding? If Beth was thirsty, I was starved!
She entered the room, cordless phone in her hand, still listening apparently. “I’m going to let you talk to your dad now honey.” She handed me the phone.
“Hey Trev, how’s is going?” Now it was my turn to listen to his explanation. I could see the vivid picture he painted with his words. Alexis-- the most amazing girl! Sweet. Smart. Funny. Lives in Idaho just across the border from WSU. Always wanted to visit there. Idaho? Who was he kidding? The boy was head over heels and twitter-patted to boot!
We said our goodbyes and I handed the dead phone back to Beth, glumly. She sank onto the ottoman next to my lazy boy. Head rested against my arm. A big sigh. I put my arm around her. “Ah Beth, I’m disappointed too.”
“This is the beginning you know. I mean, I knew when he decided to attend a college out of town it was starting but when they chose a friend over family for the holidays it really is the beginning.”
Leaving the nest. Trevor was having no failure to launch. It actually made me proud but it wouldn’t help Beth to hear me say that so I squeezed her tight and nuzzled her face with mine. She turned to me and forced a smile.
“Well, I guess on the bright side I can skip making apple pie.” Trevor is the only one in our family to eschew pumpkin pie. She rose to her feet and our fingers linked momentarily before she slipped back to hang up the phone.
During dinner that evening as we explained to Kassi and Phillip that their brother would not be joining us for Christmas, I watched my wife’s face. She was exuding the grace God has so gifted her with. True to form Kassi and Phil were pretty nonchalant about the whole thing, although I knew Phillip had been looking forward to hanging out with his big brother.
It was Kassi however, who came up with the brilliant idea. (She takes after my side of the family after all.)
“Dad’ she began, “I heard about this group that arranges host families for college students who can’t go home for the holidays. You know, to invite them to their houses for thanksgiving or Christmas. “
I waited, curious to see where she was going with this.
“What if we became a host family for Christmas this year? I mean, I know Trevor chose to not come home but what if he was stuck on campus for some reason? Wouldn’t we be glad to know that he had somewhere to go and not be alone?”
I glanced at Beth and Phillip; they looked enthused.
“I think that’s a wonderful idea Kassi. Do you know how to get a hold of these people?”
She was flying to the phone before I completed my sentence.
On Christmas Day we gathered around our table, extra leaves inserted and card table extending. We had Abigail from Portland, Thomas, from Eureka, and Kimberly, from Vancouver, all students attending our local university, all students who were stuck on campus for various reasons. We had a delightful time getting to know them.
After dinner we sat in the living room, and opened gifts. Beth and Kassi had made sure there was something for each of our guests.
Beth served our traditional hot chocolate with whipped cream and candy canes chopped and sprinkled on top. We sang carols and playing Pictionary. It was amazing how three virtual strangers had blended so seamlessly into our family so quickly.
A few days later we received a thank you card signed by each of them. It read: thank you for a truly special day…you made it possible for each of us to ‘be home for Christmas.’
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