So, I have this memory.
This time, four years ago, I was traveling back to Luxembourg from Prague. I had just spent the week in Florence, seeing the David for the first time. I went to Vienna, and sipped coffee under gilded ceilings. And in Prague, I fell in love with the world on the Charles bridge.
I took the train, from the Czech Republic to Luxembourg, via Germany. I don't remember much from that marathon of a journey (I think it was a 10 hour trip), but I remember this one moment.
We were in Germany, and the train had stopped to let more passengers on. It was dark outside, a clear night, and I sat there watching the people on the platform. People exiting the train, others getting on, hugging, kissing, laughing. I'd seen this scene hundreds of times before, but for some reason, on this particular night, I was struck by the profoundness of the joy and love that surrounded the train.
I remember watching this brief moment unfold (it lasted only minutes), realizing the excitement of adventure, while wonderful, would never compare to the feeling of coming home.
This is the time of year when that memory burns brightest. It's come to represent all of the warmth and fuzziness that comes with the holiday season: cool evenings where you can see your breath, rosy cheeks, hot chocolate, pumpkin chocolate chip bread, and, of course, reuniting with loved ones.
And just hugging the bajeezus out of them.