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It´s that time of the year, when people all over the Western Hemisphere board planes, trains and even automobiles to embark on lengthy treks in order to be with their loved ones. And this family is no different. Tomorrow Chip, Nick and I will jump on one of these:


and head to Houston and then scramble through Customs with a one and a half hour lay-over to jump on another one and around 10 am we should have a view like this:


and around 11:30 am, exactly 13 hours after we boarded our first flight and about 18 hours after we left our home, we should be arriving here:


where we will be greeted by this:



No, not really……actually my darling sister S is picking us up. But I didn´t have a chance to ask her if she wants her photo up here and Google images managed to place this beauty above the fold when I searched for Auntie images and I just couldn´t resist. This is more what I expect to be looking like after the journey, but that´s about par for the course.

I can´t believe I am going to be Stateside for two WHOLE weeks. I can´t believe I am going to wake up under the same roof as my parents and sisters for that amount of time too and I am totally UNPREPARED for the inevitable backsliding that occurs in one´s character when you suddenly spend intense amounts of time with dear people you love and yet no longer live with…. for this I think I shall offer up a small holiday prayer, named in honor of my favorite holiday visit movie, The Family Stone, which allows one to smirk and laugh and think “well, we may be crazy, but THAT was really f$%ed up”

My Family Stone Prayer

Oh Lord (or Santa, or whomever) please note that I am wishing for patience, grace and good humor in this holiday season and during my visit home. I have been a pretty good girl and I don´t really want any stuff, so if you could just bestow upon me  these traits for a week or two, I would be eternally (or annually, as you prefer) grateful.

Please o please let things like not wanting to wear winter gloves, use toilet paper or eat green vegetables wash over me so that this can be a lovely and pleasant visit from start to finish. Let me not sweat the little stuff.

Please, let me also magically become a punctual person. Having been known my entire life for being the last one in the car, grant me the foresight to start getting my brood ready 20 minutes before the rest of the family FOR EVERY OUTING in order to avoid the menacing shouts from the bottom of the stairs as I smear on a streak of lipstick and squirt perfume in my eye, use spit to clean faces AND comb hair, wincing all the way, as it were, on so many different levels.

Please help me to not lose patience with my children. Or my parents when they lose patience with my children. Please help one sister in particular to remember that my kids are her nephews, not her SIBLINGS and therefore not to sulk and pout when they do not play the way she would like.

Please help me to ask for help when I need it, but to remember that these kiddies are mine, I brought them into this world and no one else really has to change a stinky diaper other than me, as much as I might wish they would.

Help me not to pig out in the US, where the food is really good, full of crap and oh so abundant. Help me remember that it is not necessary to drive to town for breakfast at the Bakery or a sandwich at lunch every day, that there is plenty to eat at home. Remind me that I am very happy 300 days of the year without Ben and Jerry´s, 8 different kinds of cheese and chicken salad croissants and therefore can do without, even though they are SO readily available…

Help me not to visit Target or Walmart, places I have the desire to frequent no longer, convinced as I am that a $2 t shirt for my kids, while cheap and oh so tempting,  surely means that the person who made it does not make living wages and that I truly believe if I purchase these things I am just as complicit as the rest of the chain of production that put said tshirt here at this price.

Help me not to feel like I am being watched by a thousand electronic eyes when I drive through DC, to remember that radars are used all over the highway and also, most importantly, to get my stolen driver´s license replaced asap before I get pulled over without one. Help me too to remember that in the States you really CANNOT drink and drive, not even one glass of wine and that I should plan according…

Oh Lord/Santa/whomever, please bring the Westminister Boys Choir´s sweet notes of holiday cheer to my ears as soon as I get off the plane and help the first breath of really very very cold air that greets me in the parking lot and surely makes me say a bad word or two, along with the first scent of a pine tree, be it real or artificial, remind me that Christmas is about being with those you love and showing it. 9655ChristmasTree-DullesAir

Grant me the grace to love and be loved the whole time I am there (that is, until the 31st of December around 7 pm, please).

A little champagne on the flight back New Year´s Eve would certainly come in handy too…