Chosen Family: My Early Christmas Vacation


I’ve always believed that you can tell whether you are having a great vacation when you completely lose track of what day it is. That’s the kind of vacation — an early Christmas vacation — I’ve had over the past week.

I spent several days with some close friends for whom the word friend doesn’t truly do the relationship justice. As I’ve described it before, it’s much more than friendship. It’s chosen family.

One member of that chosen family is Chip, the closest I’ll ever have to a real brother. We met — gasp — 25 years ago in college, then worked together for a decade in television and were even roommates for about three years of that time before he got married. I don’t remember exactly how long it was after we became friends, but maybe six months in or so, he drove me up to his parents’ home near the South Carolina-North Carolina border. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: from the moment I walked in their door, I was one of them.

Sometimes, when a marriage happens, it has a way of damaging a friendship. That wasn’t the case with Chip and I. When he married Lynne, I gained a second close friendship.

The days I spent in Tampa with them, their three children and his mom, Linda, who all live together under the same roof was fantastic. It’s a wonderful gift to be able to meet up with people you are so fond of and who are so fond of you and you realize it’s as if you never left the last time you said, “So long.”

It’s amazing how quickly the kids are growing. Their oldest, Jillian, is now 14. Their middle child, Sullivan, my Godson, is now 12. The youngest, Hayden, is 10. If you ever doubt the saying, “Time flies,” just take a look at children. More specifically, look back over something like school photos, where you can see old and new side by side and marvel at how much they change over so short a period of time. (And try not to think about how much you’ve changed during the same time frame. Good luck with that part.)

When you’re around people with whom you are so close, even if there’s not a complicated itinerary, it’s easy to wake up in the morning and have to think for a moment (or cheat by grabbing your smartphone) to see which day it actually is.

It’s rare for me that this happens. Even this morning, I woke up and had to think about it for a second.

Monday will come soon enough on its own. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the remnants of vacation.

Tomorrow will still be Sunday, right?

Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.