Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Unhinged Alaskas: You are never that far from home

It is a time to express the depth of our affection for each other and to strengthen the bond of family

We all have certain memories or thoughts of times and places that provide us with an internal source of warmth and comfort wherever we may be or whatever circumstances we must face. Mine are of Christmases past and those held within the palm of the future.

It is a time to express the depth of our affection for each other and to strengthen the bond of family. It is a time to reflect on the good in our lives and find less fault with the world. It is a time to allow a tempered regression to childhood innocence laden with expectation, unbridled excitement, and a taste of simpler times gone by.

It is a time to heal old wounds… to reach out… to touch… to just dial a number. It is a time for the recollection of old friends or now-distant relatives with whom we once shared a closer unity. It is a time to gently bring tears to those who discover they have not been forgotten by merely noting something personal in a common Christmas card. It is a time to forget petty grievances and allow the generosity of forgiveness.

It is a time to remember our loved ones now passed, yet still so much a part of us. It is a time for the purity of love. It is a time for sharing.

For those of us who have faced isolation on Christmas, it is difficult to describe how one can accept the sense of separation yet be so deeply content because of the family nexus that grants our souls the spiritual passport required to be with those at the center of our hearts.

We know that the power of such family ties will reach to wherever our loved ones dwell and serve as a beacon of sanguinity and a guiding light back home.

It is a metaphysical thread transcending life and death, empowering those fortuitous enough to experience it.

For some of us, it is the mere symbolism of lighting a candle for the spirits who cannot savor the taste of hot cider or help turn the room into a jumble of discarded wrapping and far-flung bows. The flickering glow fills the void and, if one looks closely, they will behold the glitter of old eyes gazing on the morning’s merriment… or just feel the warmhearted closeness of a departed and cherished soul.

For those who lack a candle, they need merely close their eyes and allow the mind to take wing. Somewhere out there is the place or people they seek. It is a time when only you can confine or deny yourselves.

Whether manning an Asian mountain top or working in the high Arctic, I’ve was been able to visit my folks in the Pacific Northwest on Christmas and celebrate my wedding anniversary with my wife during the prior eve.

Although my mother and father’s ashes now grace the waves of Kachemak Bay, they’ll stop by this year and we’ll reminisce about the famous night before Christmas when Santa phoned to chuckle that I’d better get to bed or he and his reindeer would “zoom by our chimney.”

I’d had taken off like a 3-foot rocket in PJs to tell Dad but found that he and Grandpa had mysteriously gone to the store just minutes before the call.

As I gaze silently at their candles this year, I’ll see him smile and give Grampa “that look” as I babbled the news upon their return… Then, brush a bit of moisture from my eyes.

It was little easier to be away from home on Christmas, because I was twice blessed.

First, I faced no physical loneliness because of the camaraderie of my teams and other co-workers. Second, every absent and treasured soul from my past or present was there with me to watch, as I open… very tenderly… their spectral gifts given freely and without encumbrance.

They were the offerings of sanctuary and supportive devotion. They were and still are the memories of love past given and of love awaiting my return.

One must never forget, the most precious gifts to have around the Christmas tree are friends and family, no matter where they may be. Come this December 25th, I will, once again, count myself a wealthy man.

A very special merry Christmas and a heartfelt wish for a great new year to all of you from Jane and I.

Nick can be reached at

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