On this day many years ago my life changed dramatically. My family moved from Oregon to Massachusetts. On December 17, 1994, I boarded a plane for the first time in my life and travelled from the comfortable life I had in Oregon to an unknown future in a cold, unfamiliar New England town. I was a senior in high-school and I did not want to move away from my friends, my boyfriend, my school. And Christmas was only a week away. Of course I didn't think how hard it must have been on my parents to move seven kids, a dog, and a cat across the entire country at Christmas-time. All I could think of was myself.
In Oregon it was cold and rainy, but in Massachusetts it was even colder, and snowy. We arrived in the middle of the night, and our new house was cold and strange. Our belongings were being transported across the country in a moving van, so the house was empty and we slept on the floor in sleeping bags.
Eventually I would become enthralled with the beauty of the Massachusetts woods in winter, but seeing them for the first time was shocking. Oregon woods are full of pine trees and never really lose their green, but the New England woods are stark bare, ice-encrusted, and silent in a snowy December. I explored them intensely, trying to figure out who I was.
Unfortunately our moving van had a tragic accident, and we found out we weren't going to get our things until a few days after Christmas. However, it was a blessing in disguise. New Englanders have a reputation of being a bit standoffish and cold, but our new neighbors were none of those things. Before we even arrived, the neighbor who built our house stocked the kitchen with milk and bagels for our breakfast the next day. When they learned of our plight, neighbors and townspeople brought us not just food but a Christmas tree, games, chairs, and other comforts of home and the season. It was my first time being the recipient of such charity, and I was amazed and thankful for the generosity of strangers.
It turned out to be a great Christmas. Though it was a rough transition for me in many ways, now I look back at the experience with fondness. I learned so much about myself, my family, and the meaning of Christmas. I trusted my parents choice, and forged ahead into the forest of my future with bravery. The journey started out cold and wintry (my new high school was atrocious), but became a beautiful and delightful experience, which continues to amaze me. It's hard to explain these things, but I think we all have a day or a time in our young lives when everything changes, and for me it was December 17.