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The importance of family

Julie Moravchik's children, Joey, 5, and Josie, 2, celebrate New Year’s Day at their grandparents' farm in Ino, Wis. (Submitted photo)

EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn. — As I held my baby girl in my arms, I didn’t know what to do. She just wouldn’t stop crying.

What was wrong? Was she teething? Did she have an ear infection?

I tried everything, snuggling her, singing to her, carrying her around. I offered her water; I asked her what was wrong. But all my 2-year-old daughter, Josie, could do was cry.

So, I laid her down in my bed next to me, and I prayed.

I asked for an answer. And it came.

I pulled out my cellphone and starting showing my sweet Josie pictures and videos of our Christmas vacation we had just had back home, with our entire family, and she stopped crying.

She stopped crying.

And her eyes lit up, she got a big smile and she even started to laugh, her sweet Josie laugh. She was thrilled to see video of her cousin, Charley, who she adores, who is only five days older than her. And she clapped her hands and smiled wide when I showed her photos of her cousins, Grace and Ava. And she wanted to see lots of photos of Grandpa.

Josie is “Grandpa’s girl.” (All the kids in our family are “Grandpa’s girl or boy.”) Then, it hit me, my little girl, this tiny little 2-year-old girl was homesick.

She was sad the Christmas season was done and she was missing her family. I know I shed tears every time I leave after Christmas. It’s hard on me leaving our family. But I never thought how difficult it is on my children.

Here’s the order of importance in my life: God, family, friends — then work. Sometimes, I get off track and put work ahead of everything. But I pray daily and do my best to keep my priorities straight. So, whenever I’ve received a job offer from far away, I’ve turned it down. I have committed to staying within driving distance of my family.

When we moved to East Grand Forks, this is the furthest I’ve ever lived away from my family in Wisconsin. It’s a six-hour drive, but I make sure to take my children home to see our entire family once a month.

Commitment to family isn’t easy. It takes hard work, time, patience, compassion and forgiveness. And as I watched my sweet little girl go from tears to laughter….it hit me. God created families for a reason.

We all need family. Everyone needs love. Everyone. We spent a whole week at our family farm in Ino, Wis., with my parents, brothers, sisters, cousins and extended family. My mom always goes all out, with a big beautiful tree and the whole house is decorated beautifully.

We cherish it all, celebrating the birth of Jesus, from the Christmas carols to the cookies, long visits and hugs. And the Moravchik family loves Santa!

Each year, we say, “That was the best Christmas ever.” But as I was driving back to East Grand Forks, I decided we could wait a little longer for our return trip, maybe six weeks or eight. The drive isn’t easy or cheap.

But after seeing my baby girl, I realized I was wrong.

Time spent with family is never time wasted. I will stick to my plan to bring my children to the farm once a month.

As we looked at photo after photo, Josie finally laid her head down on the pillow and started to close her eyes. She fell asleep with a smile on her face. And she slept well all through the night.

It’s amazing how, at the least expected moments, God makes things clear. In the middle of the night, with my crying baby girl, God reminded me of the importance of family. And no matter how far away they are, or how difficult it is, it’s important to do all you can to remain close with the ones you love.

Moravchik is news director for WDAZ in Grand Forks and a working mother of two. She can be reached at (701) 775-2511 or