Family Trees, Winding Roads

maui-jim-4Last month, my husband and I visited our former hometown of Los Angeles. We’d been back a handful of times since moving to the Midwest, but this time was different. This time, we had our child in tow. Bee, a bright and boisterous one-and-a-half year old. The first branch on our own family tree.

As we navigated the 405 traffic with our sleeping branch in the backseat, we both commented at how strange it all felt, how oddly unfamiliar this highway we’d traveled a thousand times before was. Which exit led to our old house? Did we turn left on Sepulveda — or was it right? And didn’t the old furniture place on the corner seem so much smaller a few years ago?

And then it hit us.

We’d moved on. Home wasn’t home anymore. It didn’t look like a modern townhouse on a sandy corner – it looked like a 3-bedroom ranch on a cul-de-sac. We were no longer footloose newlyweds pursuing our dreams – we were mother and father and baby, replacing beach umbrellas with stroller covers and bicycles with minivans. We were rooted. Not in the ground, but in each other.

I understand, now more than ever, just why they’re called family trees. Because with every addition to every family, the roots grow deeper and deeper into the soil until they can’t possibly be moved. They cannot possibly be separated. They’re blood and branch, strength and tether.

The holidays are here, and we’re spending lots of time with our own branches. Cracked from the storms of life and winds of age, we’re returning to the very roots we’ve been given: each other.

I find it fitting that, in winter, the leaves fall and each branch is exposed. Because after all, what better time to reveal our hearts — to bare our souls and embrace vulnerability – than the holiday season, when we’re gathered together, our branches tied with twine and memories?

This season, I’m grateful. Not only for the tree in our hearth, but for the one in my home. The aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents, parents and siblings. The friends — our chosen branches. The children – our future fruit.

And the roots that connect us all. Merry Christmas, friends.

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