Coming back home never felt so good
I, for one, never breathed a bigger sigh of relief than when I crossed back into North Carolina on Saturday night.
Of course, I crossed back into the state during a virtual white-out of snow, but it was still very welcoming to see the sign "Welcome to North Carolina."
Coming home Saturday night ended a whirlwind six-day trek halfway across the country back to Kansas and Oklahoma for the holidays.
And, during that trip, I came to realize a lot of things.
The first, and foremost, driving straight through for 17 hours is never a good idea. About six hours into the trip, both ways, you reach a point of exhaustion that cannot be avoided.
Then, there was the wind chill.
Sometimes, over the last year, I took for granted the weather conditions here in Rutherford County. But, I received a stark reminder the first day in Kansas. It was 20 degrees with a wind chill factor of 0. That meant that it felt like it was 0 degrees outside with a north wind of about 25 miles per hour.
And, naturally, in taking it all for granted, I had completely forgot to factor in those weather conditions when I was packing on Saturday night.
Short-sleeved polos and thin long-sleeved shirts are not conducive to Kansas winters.
Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoyed seeing my grandparents for the first time since early last year. We had great conversation that, while lasting several hours, was great to have. I also got to see a cousin that I had not seen in over a decade.
However, when you start your days at 8 a.m. and end them at 1 a.m. the next morning, crankiness can set in.
I am a pretty mild-mannered and even keeled kind of person, but even I was susceptible to a little moodiness over the course of the week.
And don't let me forget the starting at 3 a.m. to drive home bit that left me less than happy. Somehow, we felt that the decision to drive back home straight through without breaking it up was a good idea.
There were other good parts of the trip that might have gone unnoticed.
One of Amanda's kids had somehow lost $70 in Christmas money he had received from family. We didn't realize it until we reached Little Rock, Ark.
While that was not good news, what happened after we discovered the fact that the money was missing was something I will never forget.
His twin brother and his older brother, on numerous occasions, offered to give part of their Christmas money to him or even offered to buy things for him with their Christmas money. It was a very touching thing to witness.
No matter how many times the three brothers will argue or fight about things that seem less-than-trivial, it was great to see the kind of giving and compassion that really encompasses the Christmas spirit.
Regardless, it was great to return home after a long week and get back to the daily grind of work, school and family.
But, through the week, I learned that family is key and that even fighting siblings can teach us all the value of Christmas.
And, it is great to be back home in North Carolina.
Matthew Clark is the Editor of The Daily Courier. He can be reached at 828-202-2927 or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @UMass_MClark