Growing up, Christmas was always about family at home. We never traveled. We woke up in our own beds, went down to our own tree in our own living room and home was where we were for the day.

As an adult, I have gone to relatives' homes for Christmas, but it was never far and I still started and ended the day at home.

But that changed last year. There was a figurative earthquake in my family, causing a rupture that will likely never heal. Although there is family in Northeast Ohio I am still in contact with, home at Christmas is no longer what it used to be. So a year ago, I did some real traveling during the holidays to rediscover it, to Texas to spend it with my mother and my sister and brother-in-law, their daughters and infant grandson, the largest congregation of family that I now have access to.

The experience was reminiscent of those childhood Christmases gathered at home. It reminds me of something that someone once said; it's unclear who, but I read it has been attributed to a 7-year-old boy named Bobby: "Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen."

This year, I'm returning to Texas again for Christmas. My journey will take me a little longer this year. After some unpleasant experiences last December coming home -- involving bad weather, a couple of hours on hold with an airline, two canceled flights, a temporary detour to Pittsburgh and spending the night at the airport before going home to have breakfast and go to work -- I decided to give travel by train a try.

It's something I've always wanted to do, but even if I wasn't looking forward to the experience, I would be excited by the destination and spending the holiday with family.

Sure, I'll be far away, but as the late Marjorie Holmes, an inspirational writer, newspaper columnist and, like me, Iowa born, once said, "At Christmas, all roads lead home."


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