Merry Christmas Eve, everyone. I hope all of your Christmases (or Hanukkahs, or Kwanzaas) are filled with love, family and friends.
When I think of Christmas, I think of my brother waking everyone up as soon as the clock struck 6. By that time, he had already assessed the presents under the tree and grouped everyone's together. In later years, the time of awakening got to be an hour or two later, but his enthusiasm never diminished. We would all go through our stockings first, see what little travel items or other small treasures my mother (aka: Santa. Sorry, kids.) had picked out for us.
Then we'd move to the Christmas tree room, which was our Bible study room. We'd each take turns opening a present, reading who it was from and showing the room what it was. We'd go around the circle one by one until every present was opened. By that time, the tree room had grown a mountain of wrapping paper in the middle of it. After cleaning it up, Mom and/or Dad would start making a breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast and sometimes cinnamon rolls while Scotty and I would start getting ready to go to Grandma's. We'd all sit down and eat together when it was ready.
After everyone was washed up, we'd venture across town to either my grandmother or aunt's house to see extended family and open more gifts. There was always a huge meal waiting, and lots of family to share it with. We'd visit into the evening, and leave when we were all sufficiently exhausted.
This is the first year in my life I will not share in that tradition. I won't be woken up at dawn by my brother, I won't sit down to breakfast with my family and I won't get to run around with my cousins. I am, however, very thankful that another family has taken me in. My former roommate and college friend Mandy and her family live in Connecticut, so after work today I am taking the train to spend Christmas with them. They're a loving family and I know them well. Thanks to them, I won't have to bare the thought of waking up in an empty apartment on a cold Christmas morning.
But I will greatly miss my family, and I know they miss me too. Unfortunately, reaching my dream has taken me away from them. I know I did not adequately appreciate my time with them during all those Christmases. So those of you who are spending the holidays with family, give everyone an extra hug and take a second to look around and appreciate the loving people around you, because you never know where you could be next year.
Merry Christmas, everyone.