When You Have to Leave Them
My husband and I have had the wonderful privilege of traveling quite a bit in our seventeen years of marriage. Most of it has been one of us at a time for missions, but a couple of trips have just been for the sheer joy of experiencing new places together. We love it.
What we don't love is leaving each other or the children behind.
And that part never gets easier for the one who is boarding the plane.
But, we have found a small way to make it a little easier for the ones left behind. And this simple family tradition, going on a decade strong now, is still loved in our house when mom or dad is saying goodbye for a big trip. All it takes is a little time to prepare, a few dollars, and some brown paper lunch sacks. Sounds exciting, right?
Well, when our kids were toddlers, it was extremely exciting. Now that our house is tipping the scales in the teenage direction, I would say its mildly enthusing. But, even if it doesn't incite what it used to, it still tells the hearts left at home that they are important and missed.
All we do is count up the days the traveling parent will be away from the family. My upcoming trip to India is ten days long, but I will see them the morning I leave and the evening I get home, so this time, the trip day total comes to eight. Then, the traveler fills up a sack for each day they will be gone with small surprises, and lines them up in a place they can be seen, but not reached by baby hands. Either every morning when the kids wake up or every evening after supper, the kids get to open one bag, making a wonderfully visual countdown until they get to hug mom or dad again.
When the kids were little, the bags would hold a McDonald's gift certificate, stickers, or small pieces of candy. Now that they are bigger and don't care for McD's anymore (can I get a Hallelujah???), it tends to cost a little more to fill the bags. But, the point really isn't to spend a lot of money. It's just meant to say, "I love you."
And now that I have begun to prepare for getting on that plane next week, I'm just wondering if I can talk them in to making me some bags to go in my suitcase.
Ten whole days.
I'm going to miss these people.
Author's Note: All funds for the trip to India have come in, and I'm looking forward to what God has in store for me to do there!