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Love – the heart of Christmas


Don and I celebrated both our extended family Christmases this weekend. I’m not certain why it seems many we know, including both our families, decided to celebrate so early this year. But as children grow and build their own lives, it becomes more difficult to schedule family time when all are available.

I loved being with our families–always do.

We laughed with delight when two-year old Cadence pulled out the stuffed Santa snowman Mom gave her, held it to her chest and beamed, hugging the little snowman tight. Irrepressible joy. Glee that had nothing to do with the size or cost of the gift, but with delight in its softness, its sweet face, the feeling of it against her baby skin.

And when Marcy opened her white elephant gift, we roared …. a huge coffee mug/toilet. Quite the conversation piece!

There have been years that included more tears than laughter … the first Christmases after a precious nephew, Dad, and my late husband passed away. Bitter-sweet. Bitter in the loss; sweet in the recollections of earlier times together.

I’m deeply grateful for the gift of family. The laughter, teasing, and tears we’ve shared through deep loss and great joy.  My brother Bob, who sat with Mom in the ER for nine hours a week ago while she waited for treatment and then for test results. Melvyn, who has driven to town whenever Mom or Dad underwent surgery. Arnold, who determined why Dad was having horrible nightmares in the hospital (sleeping pills). Each family has had its own challenges, ups and downs. But we love, believe in, and encourage each other–even when we disagree, which we do on some significant issues.

I guess it comes down to what’s most important–family or being right. And our relationship is far more important than the issues on which we differ. And as long as we remember that, our family will continue to thrive.

What’s your family dynamic this Christmas? Are you tense about issues that may arise, old wounds reopened, that “uncomfortable” uncle or aunt you have to spend time with? How do you handle that?






  1. Karen O'Connor says:

    Thank you, Carol, for an inspiring and thoughtful article about families and holidays and possible differences showing up when we get together. For some years now I have dropped sharing my opinions of issues that really don’t matter in the long run. I’m just so grateful to have a family to love and one who loves me that I focus on that and let all else go. As you said, what’s most important–family or ‘being right’ at least in our minds! 🙂 I vote for family every time.

    1. carolnl says:

      Amen, Karen! Its taken me time and maturity to stop trying to be ‘right.’ And I too am deeply grateful for a loving family. Thanks for your comment.

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