The kids have been out of school since December 19th. Up until Christmas afternoon, the weather was mild, in the 40s and even 50s and we were all hoping for snow to help us get in the "spirit" of the holiday season. In my opinion, the snow waited too long to arrive and now has me seriously stressed out. I grew up in Vermont and until a few years ago, my parents lived there most of the year but "wintered" in Florida. They rented their house in Vermont to skiers and they rented a place in Key Largo. But like all of us, they're getting older every day. They no longer want to be shoveling three feet of snow off the walk or braving frigid temperatures every time they need a gallon of milk. And winters in Vermont are long and grey. None of their grown children live close by....we're all in different states, and without the help of their middle-aged (yet still healthy and strong!) off-spring to help them with winter chores, nor grandchildren nearby who they would miss, it made sense for them to move somewhere warmer and more pleasant year-round. Until I had children of my own, I don't think I could have anticipated how important the "village" factor is in raising children. What I am saying is: I miss my Mom and Dad! I miss them because they adore my children and my children adore them. I miss the free help they would offer if I needed to drop everything and bring one kid to the doctor for an earache...instead, I have to bring all three. I miss the date nights my husband and I could have if we didn't have to pay (not to mention track down) a babysitter and the sleep-overs the kids would be able to have at Grandma and Papa's house. I hate that my parents have to miss every birthday party, every preschool performance and Lauren playing a harp solo at church on Christmas Eve. I hate that we see them two to three times a year and that it's so darn expensive and complicated to make that happen. The world is so different than it was fifty years ago. It is both bigger and smaller at the same time. Family units tended to stay closer geographically. But now it's commonplace to live thousands of miles from where we grew up and have kids who only see their grandparents a few times a year. I had one grandmother who lived until after I had graduated from college, who lived in the same town I did for my entire childhood. The rest passed away when I was very young. I have so many fond memories of baking cookies, sleeping at her house, having her with us for every single Christmas. And I didn't even realize how lucky I was. My other family members weren't all in Vermont--but spread through out New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. They weren't right around the corner but at least within a reasonable drive. Why am I missing my parents so much right now and pondering the changing family dynamics in the US? Because the mild weather and green Christmas we had...have changed to snow, snow, freezing temps and more snow--and the kids and I are supposed to fly to Florida on a 6:25 a.m. flight tomorrow. As an admittedly nervous flyer, who has already experienced the misery of being stranded in an airport alone with children, I'm torn. Do we try it and risk being stuck in the airport or do we cancel our trip and try to reschedule at another time. We haven't seen my parents since June. That's too long in my opinion. And we're limited to when and how long we can travel by Lauren and Kate's school schedule. I can't bear the idea of staying at home alone with all three kids, bored, incredibly disappointed and missing Grandma and Papa...and yet, I'm not sure I'm a fan of driving an hour to the airport in a snowstorm in the middle of the night to try to get on a plane that may or may not take off. Update: We made it! Hurray! Happy New Year and Safe Travels!