by Marielle Carlisle
This is the 7th year that we've lived in AZ. Of the seven years here, we've traveled to be with family four times for the holidays. I usually have to work Christmas or Christmas Eve, which makes it difficult to get time off.
I love my family, and I love spending the holidays with my family. Growing up, from Easter all the way to the New Year was an explosion of cousins and food. It was like "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" LDS style.
I remember my first Memorial Day we lived here. I was terribly homesick, and longed to be with my family out in the backyard, BBQ'ing and enjoying the lively conversations. Instead, I had to work. (Are you noticing a trend with my work schedule? It is an evening, weekend, holiday kind of job.) I called home that evening and heard everyone in the background, happy and boisterous. I cried.
Since then it has gotten better. I have my own little family now, with our own little traditions. And now I understand it's better to visit Utah during the summer when the weather here is unpleasant, instead of freezing my buns off in the cold Rocky Mountain winter.
What I miss most during Christmas is singing with my family. Both my parents and 3 of my 4 siblings would gather round the piano to sing carols, with the 4th sibling tickling the ivories. We would even attempt Handel's Messiah, and sing until our voices were hoarse. I miss that.
This last Sunday I was sitting at our piano, plunking out some Christmas songs, when suddenly my 3 year old starts singing along. She didn't know all the words, and was mostly off key, but we were singing together. I was so happy. Really, really happy. The memories that I had been longing for, to sing with family, was being filled with new traditions and voices. I don't worry anymore about singing carols with loved ones.
I loved reading President Eyring's message in the December Ensign titled "Home for the Holidays." It made me think of those rings given out to missionaries before they embark on their missions that read Return with Honor. Not only do missionaries strive to return home after their missions with honor, but to also return to our Heavenly Father with honor. Being home for the holidays means so much more then being family. It means making room for the Savior, and striving to return home to Him once again.
I can't wait to live with my Savior and Heavenly Father again. To live with my family for all eternity. To be home.
May the Spirit of Christ be with you this Christmas.