I know it's the holidays when Old Navy displays panoplies of holiday pajamas.

Unfortunately, I no longer have any immediate family. My mother Rose, the light and love of my life, was the last branch of origin on that tree. In 2010, she helped me move across the country and during that last journey we did see: A rare summer rainstorm in the Badlands, that forceful Old Faithful, Mt. Rushmore, and Montana's meandering, babbling brooks. But come September we discovered cancer and by December's end, she was gone. I could scarcely imagine another year when the joy of the season would outweigh its sadness. While I'm thankful I never had to spend a Christmas alone, many thin smiles veiled aches as folks attempted to shoehorn me into existing family traditions.

Luke and Ginger, dear friends, had always demanded that I put down some roots in this town. After nearly seven years of resistance, I relented. They immediately initiated me into all family rituals not as an afterthought, but with complete integration.

Now, every holiday season seems sacrosanct. Time well-spent together, #blessed and brimming with plenty of local artisan presents, the Muppets Christmas Carol, impromptu Pentatonix dance parties ("O Come, All Ye Faithful," the front-runner favorite), Christmas Day casseroles (one gluten-free!) and even a trip to see a movie. But of all those traditions the very best might be the donning of matching pajamas, one pair reserved just for me.

Merrily grounded now here I stay, a bright sense of belonging renewed on this day.

Now you've heard my story and can certainly comprehend — when those jammies hit the shelf, I can't help but stop and smile to myself. I'll leave you with some experiential advice: Try being open and willing to admit, any love that you find in exactly the right fit. ♦

Inga Laurent moved from Cleveland in 2010 for a job at Gonzaga University and has slowly been falling in love with Spokane ever since. While she believes the natural beauty of this place is unrivaled, she's more enamored with the beautiful people in it.

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About The Author

Inga Laurent

Inga N. Laurent is a local legal educator and a Fulbright scholar. She is deeply curious about the world and its constructs and delights in uncovering common points of connection that unite our shared but unique human experiences.