Family is the best present all year round

By: Carol Feineman, editor
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I recently received an unexpected gift, one that will never tarnish or chip or break. And one I’ll appreciate for years to come. The gift was in the form of a surprise visit by my 25-year-old daughter, Kim. My daughter, receiving a job promotion in September, was transferred from her company’s Singapore office to the Poland office. So in October, she excitedly packed up her belongings in Singapore and gave her landlord back the keys. Because of Visa regulations, however, Kim couldn’t immediately enter Poland. So she came home to the United States to wait two weeks for the Visa to be finalized. Because of more bureaucratic red tape, however, those two weeks turned into a two-month wait. Not so lucky for my daughter, who was forced to correspond with her new office members by computer and by phone in a time zone nine hours ahead of California. But lucky for me because spending these last two months with my daughter has been extraordinary. I’ve always considered the best part of my life to be when my daughters were younger and living at home. In those days, unfortunately, I was overextended, working long hours both in the office and then at home. For more of their school nights than I’d like to admit, my daughters didn’t receive the full attention they deserved from me. I was instead worried about finishing stories I brought home from work, deadlines that in retrospect seem petty today. But back then, I figured there would be time “tomorrow” to focus completely on my daughters. While I can’t turn the clock back to their childhood, I can at least focus completely on my daughters when they visit me today. This time, I did it right. While Kim was temporarily in limbo with her Polish residency these past two months, I couldn’t wait to see her after work. And leave my work at the office and all my other errands for another week. What a blast it was, just being with my daughter and really listening to her. Her two months here corresponded to when I moved to Lincoln. I thought she’d prefer we stay with her grandparents in Grass Valley since their house is comfortably set up. But my daughter insisted on staying in Lincoln and helping me unpack belongings and then arrange rooms to make the house cozy. My daughter’s Visa arrived last week. She flew to Poland on Saturday, the same weekend that my younger daughter, Hillary, graduated from the University of California at Davis and flew to Southern California to celebrate. Kim was supposed to fly out on Friday but decided to delay her trip 24 hours so we could have an extra day together. That meant she’d have to report to work 10 hours after landing in a new country. I walked around all day Friday like I won the lottery. Saturday was not easy for me. Coincidentally but very poetically, Saturday was miserably cold, rainy and leaves were falling like crazy all over my yard. I couldn’t shake the feeling that time had just passed me by, the same way I felt when my daughters moved out of the house four and seven years ago respectively to begin college. I’ve always been close to my daughters and cringe when I overhear parents at the grocery store or coffee shop say they can’t wait for their kids to move out of the house. Since this is the holiday season, I wanted to share my unexpected gift of time with my daughter. Treasure your own family members, and close friends just as appropriately, not only this season but every day of the year. And if you have children still at home or just visiting for the holidays, no matter their age, please hug them. Because every minute with them is a precious and unique gift, one that can’t be replaced.