Dear Shaina,

Hanukkah has come and gone. Your winter holiday visit flew by, and I was briefly spoiled by our late-night conversations and annual road trip adventure to South Carolina. You always seem to talk more late at night and in the car. I remember picking you up from overnight summer camp and hearing about all your antics at Camp Judaea for most of the long ride home from North Carolina. Dad and I would just look at each other marveling at the transformation of our “quiet” child.

Dropping you off at the Atlanta airport for your trip to Israel this time was bittersweet because I knew you would be returning directly to Berkeley from Israel and that this visit “home” was officially over. I was reluctant to let go of that precious “car” time so soon. Airports and goodbyes, although familiar, are still not easy for me. The transitions are hard despite the transformations that are inevitable for both of us.

The new year slipped into our lives with barely a blip on the radar. We spent New Year’s Eve at home with friends, lots of food and comfortable celebration. The cold has set in, and I am hibernating.

I am burning through those books that have been stacked up on my night table since last spring and cooking chili and soups and baked apples…winter comfort foods. 2015 just rolls off my marker onto the freezer bags that I am filling with goodies to store for the winter. And pomegranates are showing up in the market just in time for Tu b’Shevat.

I started a new house project in the basement, which is engaging my nesting instincts and distracting me from the winter blahs. I am missing you more than I should be. Each visit allows me a glimpse into your evolving life and transformation into young adulthood. I know that sounds dramatic, but this “growth spurt” is palpable. These short teaser visits leave me wanting more. A trip to sunny California may be in my not-too-distant future.