Today, my hubby and I took a flight to Cape Cod to retrieve one of my In-Laws cars to drive it south because they are moving. They bought the house next door to us, next door to our mountain house in North GA. Yep, that’s right. They are moving to the North Georgia Mountains, to a house that is off a dirt road. I feel like there’s a country song in there somewhere…

Did I mention they are moving to the house exactly next door to us? Did I say I couldn’t be happier? No, I don’t think I did, but it’s an important part – I honestly adore this idea and the reality that will come with it. I won the lottery by getting them as my in-laws. I’m one lucky lady.

It seems evident that packing your life and moving it south would bring a lot of nostalgia. I, myself, am super sad and happy all at the same time.

I’m sad Dottie and Gary are leaving this place, a place they have retired to and have created a beautiful and meaningful life, both aesthetically and emotionally. As I type this, I am sitting in bed late-night upstairs in a bedroom where they have dog-shed dormers and vaulted ceilings. We have been staying in this particular room when we visit for the last ten years or so. In this bedroom, my husband hits his head on the ceiling at least once every time we are here. It always hurts him, but he also laughs a little each time too. And believe me, it happens EVERY time we come.

We have made a habit out of coming twice a year since I happened on the scene back in 2000. Wow. Just wow. Has it been 19 years already?

We have also done every Christmas here, save last year because circumstances changed. That change was okay, I will admit I am a strange bird, and I embrace change. I usually like it when things/circumstances/habits differ.

But in life, traditions matter, and the reality is this family has celebrated Christmas each year at the Cape house for a long while now. And ya’ know what, Gary (my father-in-law) plays a pretty awesome Santa. Yep, he has dressed up each year as Santa and went to visit our niece and nephew, Zach and Ellie, on Santa’s busiest night of the year (Christmas Eve) to bring them Christmas Pajamas. He also brought Christmas beer glasses for the adults so nobody felt left out. How special was it for those kids to feel that important?!?! The “real Gary” continuously forgot the fondu cheese, so he always missed out on “Santa”…

One year, Zach said that Santa’s eyes looked just like Crampas, (Crampa – he lovingly called his Grandfather this). He was right, Santa did have Gary’s eyes. And when his mother affirmed that notion, he wanted to know if all the adults knew Crampa was Santa? #sopresh.

And to not spoil the magic for his sister, big brother Zach kept the “secret” safe from Ellie until she figured it out all on her own. And once she did, she asked Crampa if he would do it one last time as the Santa spell is a hard one to shake for a growing girl. Crampa, of course, obliged.

So I sit here on the cusp of significant changes, good changes, mindful changes. It feels sad to leave behind this beautiful house where we made so many memories. From 4th of July clambakes with 90 people which felt like we threw a wedding every year, to wiffleball competitions between the adults and the kids, to 60th & 70th Birthday Parties, to sunkissed summer days and fresh oysters by the dozen, to watching our Zach and Ellie grow from infants into College kids with a blink of an eye, to Schoolhouse Ice Cream evening snacks, to 24 inches of snow on Christmas Day, to fires in the living room with Nikki and Joe hoarding all the heat, to Christmas Eve Fondue, to all the laughs, hugs and tears in-between, it surely is a bittersweet goodbye.

This year has been filled with a tremendous amount of change. Change that has been here and there. It’s a lot of good with a little bad. Even the most welcomed changes come with a touch of sour. When people I haven’t seen in a while ask me how I am and how things are going, it is hard to form an answer that gives this year the proper gravity it deserves.

Friends have lost their parents, divorce has and is happening – both wanted and unwanted – but still immensely hard regardless of what the final outcome will be, pets passing, kids graduating, people moving, tree’s falling, love growing and house guests galore! It’s been a wild ride, and I am so thankful for the journey.

For the experiences this home has provided the entire family, I bid it my fondest farewell. I know it is just “stuff”, and that the most important parts are the people; but the kindness, the generosity, the love, the acceptance, the encouragement, the guidance, the culinary delights, the growth, the laughter, the long talks and emotional walks that all came from within these walls was abundant. And it has meant the world to me.

We hope the next people find the depth and treasures we all found here, that the energy we leave behind can transcend our family and extend a guiding, loving hand to those who wish to grasp it.

Cue the tears. And the smiles.