No pictures this time. Just my words (which I hope are worth something...)
This Christmas was special. My entire family was here in Ohio, together, celebrating the holiday. That doesn't happen so often anymore, nor will it (probably) in the future.
As one gets older, I suppose, Christmas becomes less about one's self and more about others – in fact, life itself becomes more about others. It's not about what you got... it's about what you gave and how it was received.
When I was younger I would reciprocate questions to my dad: "What do you want for Christmas, dad?" I never really understood then why he always answered that he didn't need anything. Of course he needed things, right? He needed some longer, baggier pants so he would look cooler (he still needs those!). He needed a really cool computer game to blow off some steam (he still plays Tetris and Minesweeper on Windows 95, God love him). And what guy doesn't need more ties to wear to work? (my dad has hundreds of ties, actually)
I guess there are bigger things in life that just mean more. Maybe it was something that us kids would make for him. Or just being with us. Or just seeing us smile. Maybe that was what made his [Christmas] Day. Maybe that's why a computer mouse that I bought him five years ago hasn't even been opened, and every single photograph of mine that I've ever given him has found a place on his desk, dresser, or mantelpiece.
I'm able to see some of those same sentiments in my own interactions with my neices and nephew, now. Just seeing them healthy and happy – just getting a heartfelt two-second hug from a three-year-old, is enough. I've learned a lot from my family, and I'm sure I'll continue to.
But, things sure change.
One could go so far as to say that things will never be like they were... that things are as they are. My family will continue to grow. My family will continue to change. My family will continue to move about the country. The dynamic is just that... ever changing.
My family has spent Christmas at my late maternal grandmother's house for about 40 years. We've held-on to that tradition for several years after my grandma passed away, but eventually, Christmas won't be celebrated there anymore. It's easy to say that it's not about where you are, and that it's who you're with. But it does matter where you are. I know that the tree will be in the living room, with the same lights, and ornaments, and angel. I know that the nativity will be in the family room under the window with that little light bulb (our "star from the east") over the manger. I know that everyone I know and love will be there, sitting in their usual spots as all the kids open presents. To boot, I've never missed a Christmas. Next year, since I'll be the newbie at my new job, I'm not so sure I'll be able to keep my hot-streak going.
Many people enter our lives. A relative few will actually accompany us along the entire path. Being able to understand that is often hard, but perhaps imperative. Whether they stay with us or not, others make a change in our lives that is sometimes as slight as the ripple of a pebble thrown in pond, and sometimes as great as an ocean wave. We desire people who will stay, to help us weather all of the immense change, as well as share in it. Nobody said it would be easy, but nobody said it would be all bad either.