The Joy of Unplugging

Over Thanksgiving, Zach and I traveled to Alabama to spend time with our families for the holiday weekend. We stopped first with my grandparents in Northern Alabama before making our way further south to see the Vickerys. We had a wonderful time eating, laughing, and even running (I ran my first 5k after my aunt asked me the night before the race if I wanted to join her!).

On the way to our first stop with my grandparents, Zach and I talked about how much we looked forward to our trips to their house as a time to unplug and live a bit more simply, to breathe a bit more deeply. We knew our time would be rushed but still looked forward to the peacefulness that comes from any time spent at “the lake house”. In all the craziness of the past year, a few days with spotty cell service and lots of home-cooked food sounded like perfection.

One of the holiday traditions in my Mom’s family is putting together (ridiculously difficult) puzzles during our stay each holiday. This year we completed two 1000-piece puzzles in the two days Zach and I were there. It was equally frustrating and fun to work through the puzzles together, personal space becoming minimal as we all reached across each other for the perfect piece to complete our chosen sections. 

It’s remarkable how much better a conversation becomes when phones are put away and hands are busy shifting puzzle pieces rather than scrolling news feeds. And without the television blaring, the stories shared were more poignant, my brother-in-law’s wit more biting (and hilarious), and the laughter of my sister and me much louder. Even though our time was short, it felt like all a Thanksgiving should be. The viral video could wait. I needed my hands to hold my sweet niece (or shovel down some macaroni and cheese!).

When we made our way to Zach’s family, the television and cell service was present, but the family still spent quite a bit of time outdoors battling it out in a home run derby. Watching my father-in-law hit the dirt after my mother-in-law launched a hit right at him was much higher quality entertainment than anything I could’ve found online. 

I wish more of life could be spent at the lake house, or outside in a home run derby. We all could use some time this holiday season without cell service. Because when our hands are full of technology, we miss the chance to hold onto all the truly good gifts we’ve been given. The holiday memories made together will mean much more in the years to come than how many people liked our Christmas selfies or the amount of laughs our throwback holiday photo garnered. So let’s plug in the lights on the tree, turn off the television, and put away the phones. Let’s be together this Christmas with grateful, open hands.

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