We live in the Midwest, the suburbs of Chicago, and we survived the polar vortex. Temperatures were -22 with a windchill of -55. It was cold. We are used to 0 degrees, do we love it, no of course not, who does? We dress appropriately, keep blankets by couch, light the wood fire, and we are good to go. -22 is a bit different. School gets cancelled for those temperatures, and the main thing, our 100 year old house, with mostly original windows, does not retain heat— AT ALL!! When it hits 0 we are accustomed to our inside house temp being 63 and not going anywhere. So, I was worried when I heard about the projected temperatures for Chiberia 2019. Our house would turn into ice, and we would turn into popsicles. It was not going to be fun.
In steps our family away from family. We don’t live near family. We don’t have grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles to turn to, we are alone here in the suburbs. Our families are both in Kentucky. We picked Chicago because we were still a car ride away, but it isn’t a quick car ride. There is a lot we miss out on by being away from family: built in babysitters, cousins, grandparent relationships, a cheering squad at sports games, a helping hand with basically anything, people to hang out with during long breaks, and people who can’t really say no because they are family. I mean, maybe they want to, but they won’t. We don’t naturally have that. We never have. Ever since we started our family we have been away from family. It has been hard. Part of me hates it. But we have been blessed with a family away from family. I really don’t know that I deserve it. I am totally introverted, but in the end we found a family that has become an extension of us. Maybe God looked down and saw that I was a complete hot mess and needed all the help I could get. No matter the reason- I am grateful. Always grateful.
This isn’t something to be taken lightly. When a family with their own busy schedules, nearby family, and jobs take the time to open their hearts to you and your wild zoo of kids, it is a miracle and a blessing. We aren’t always easy, not all of us are loving and kind all the time, and still we are loved. We are broken and full of flaws, but our friends see us and smile. They know our house doesn’t get or stay warm in the winter, so they invite us, and our ridiculous puppy, to their house until it warms up. No questions. Don’t say no. Just— what time will you be here and what food should we have in the house? On top of that it is my daughter’s 5th birthday and they were just as excited about it as we were. They bought her gifts, made her a special dinner, sang her happy birthday, and loved on her just as much as we did. Even if it wasn’t Chiberia 2019, they would have done it anyway. We disrupted their house, their schedules, and did I mention there are 7 of us plus a dog, but there was never a question.
I don’t know how it works. I don’t the secret formula for gaining a family away from family, but I am so grateful we have one. We share holidays, birthdays, vacations, and just days with people who love us in all of our dirty glory. If you find it—cherish it. Hold it tight because it is a little slice of heaven on Earth.