Story last updated at 12/31/2008 - 11:45 am
One of the women sleeping near me at the Seattle-Tacoma airport the night of Dec. 22 had been there for four days, and was bracing herself for four more.
Neither one of us was in any kind of hurry that Tuesday morning before Christmas, so we had a long conversation about where we were trying to go and who we were hoping to see. For someone who would probably miss spending Christmas with her family, my companion was in incredibly bright spirits.
She was trying to go see her children in Denver, and my guess is that she was in such a good mood because she was thinking about her children, how much she loved them, and how much she wanted to see them. She felt that even if it took eight days to get there, it would be worth it.
In the days leading up to my departure, as thousands of people were stranded at Sea-Tac and other airports around the country, I vowed that even if I made it through this round of holiday travel, I'd never do it again. Sorry folks, I planned to tell my family, but it's not worth paying nearly twice as much for plane tickets and battling crowds. Can we get together some other time, like March or October?
But during my whirlwind four-day visit to family in Chicago and Wisconsin, I forgot to tell everyone that I wouldn't be coming home during the holidays next year. I was having too much fun talking about everything else.
For four days straight I chatted nonstop with family members and old friends I hadn't seen in a year - or six. We talked about work, school, relationships, family and plans for the future. We retold old stories and laughed at each other's quirks.
And even though I didn't sleep much and spent a lot of time in planes, trains and automobiles, I came back from the trip feeling surprisingly refreshed.
There must be something rejuvenating in reconnecting with people we care about. We feel a little more complete after being with those who are important to us.
And even though it's more expensive and crowded to travel around the holidays, there's a reason so many of us keep doing it. Regardless of what holiday we are celebrating, nearly everyone has a little time off - a little time to think about the people we care about. It may not be relaxing, but it is rejuvenating.
On my trip, I made a lot of vows to be better about keeping in touch with relatives and old friends. But promises to keep in touch, like many New Year's resolutions, are easily broken. Before we know it another year has passed
So my New Year's Resolution is something I can do on New Year's Day, in just an hour or two. I'm going to find time to sit down by myself and write my own "Year in Review" to send to everyone I've lost touch with.
Many people already do this in holiday letters, but sometimes the holidays are just too busy and we put it off another year. But what about if we took just an hour or two on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day whenever there's a lull in festivities?
I figure that an update, even in the form of a mass e-mail, will be appreciated whenever it's sent. And hopefully, it will spark more e-mails, phone conversations and visits.
This year begins with a big looking back for all Alaskans, as Jan. 3 marks the 50th Anniversary of Alaskan Statehood. It's probably as good a time as any for all of us to look back on this year and share those reflections with those who haven't been by our side the whole time.
Happy New Year, and best wishes for 2009.
Katie Spielberger is associate editor of the CCW. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org