I love my life in Worthington, but it’s often around this time of year when I wish my family was just a hop and a skip away, rather than the hop, skip and a jump that they are.

It’s really not that terrible of a drive — take Minnesota/Iowa 60 south to Sioux City, cross the Missouri River into Nebraska and keep heading on Highway 20 until the destination is reached three and a half hours later. No turns required.

Last weekend I was more than happy to make the drive, especially since Mother Nature kept me from spending time with my family on Thanksgiving. It was clear skies and an incredible 58 degrees Sunday afternoon “down south” in my Nebraska hometown.

Although it ended up being perfect conditions to celebrate Christmas with the family, I’m the type of person that has to be very purposeful in order to see that it was.

Although knowingly absurd, I spent weeks feeling a little down about having to miss out on Thanksgiving in Nebraska, even though I’m lucky enough to have my second family literally just a hop, skip and a jump away. They were sympathetic that our plans were changed, but more than happy to have us join unexpectedly.

Then it was a planning nightmare as we started looking toward Christmas: whose family will we visit when? For most of you with full-time jobs, you understand how inconvenient Christmas landing in the middle of the week is. I debated whether I really wanted to travel seven hours for the chance to be home for 24 hours.

That thinking made spending Christmas with Brett’s folks, who live in Ocheyedan, Iowa, an easy choice even though I’ll miss out on my own family gathering on Christmas Day. I’ve known for the last couple of years that our holiday traditions were changing as my cousins and I continued to get older, but especially this year I’ve noticed being in limbo as both my family and Brett’s family determine new traditions as we age and blend families.

And that’s what I truly should be thinking about during the craziness leading up to the holiday: that it doesn’t matter the date on the calendar — I’ve got two families eager to welcome us into their homes on any given day.

Whether or not the main meal suits my fancy or not, at least we’re fortunate enough to have food stacked on our plates.

Whether or not the gift was in a color I would have chosen, at least someone thought enough of us.

I’ll be the first to admit it can be hard to keep these blessings at the forefront of the holiday season when coordinating who is bringing what where and when. But it’s my hope that if the craziness of the holiday season clouds the blessings in your life, that you be purposeful this Christmas to look around at what you have and value the people and memories more than what’s wrapped under the tree.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.