It'd be hard to top the post from the year my sister busted me to my mom, telling her about my long-ago klepto phase. But it was still A Very Watson Christmas. (Although here's a well-deserved hat tip to my mom and her sense of humor - while preparing for the big meal, she held up one of those stolen forks and raised an eyebrow at me with, "Here. You can eat with this one.")
For about 24 hours, I was with my entire family of origin, plus my siblings' spouses, plus one little boy, in Greenville SC. After that, those of us who live in NC had to leave pretty quickly, since a little snow had started mixing with the rain, there, and we had no clue what awaited us back here in Greensboro.
What awaited us back in Greensboro is the kind of snow that children ask for in their bedtime prayers and on their lists to Santa. I am surrounded by a winter wonderland this morning. But I wasn't here for the start of it. Instead, I was with the people I have spent nearly all my Christmasses with. For better and worse, there's something about the unscripted-yet-familiar way our Big Holiday unfolds that sort of anchors the end of the year in "life as I know it."
I just have to say how much I love my family. We'll be clear - especially when we're all together in a small space, these people drive me nuts. And I them, no doubt. Together we're kooky and loud and I have no doubt whatsoever that we've often been THAT family people raise an eyebrow toward, if they see us all together in public. And I love 'em every one. For this 24 hours together, we raised eyebrows at each other, and laughed and bickered and hugged and teased and tricked and giggled over the antics of that little boy who wore, The Entire Time I Was There, his new pajamas that were covered in scarved bears and dancing snowflakes. Maybe a few of the eyebrows were raised in his direction, too, since you'd be hard pressed to find a more indulged "baby" as my nephew. But we pulled out the balance and semi-consistency, too, then let some things slide. After all, it was Christmas!
This was also the year I gave my brother a hard time about his new-to-me sideburns (picture Elvis in his later years and you wouldn't be so far off base.) But that's the thing about this family: we do what we do and we love each other anyway. (Don't you worry - he'll be telling a story or two about his weird sister, too.)
But it's my parents I'm thinking about the most this morning. And how much they love us. No matter what we do or where we go, I just know about this love. On occasion - surely not often enough - I pause to give this Big Love of theirs the respect it deserves. In recent years, my dad has had two different serious surgeries, and from both he's recovered beautifully. This was the year my mom surprised us all with the need for a different huge surgery. All evidence suggests she's also recovering beautifully, as well. How easily I might not have had either one of them this year. So I'm also feeling a lot of gratitude after waking, once more, in a bed 200 miles away from where I woke yesterday morning to the sound of giggles and my brother's voice booming a "Ho Ho Ho," the little joke he admitted he'd almost played 3 hours earlier.
I've sequestered myself away this morning for a thrilling stretch of quiet me-time. Outside my window I see evidence of that winter wonderland I mentioned before. Maybe I'll even bundle up in that insanely warm Omni-Heat jacket I told you about (or finally take the time to complete the requested survey for Columbia; I hope they're understanding about holiday delays) and go out and enjoy some of that white stuff. For now, though, it's just me and the quiet. But it's not too quiet. Because I still hear the laughter of my family and I smile. And know that for so many reasons, my life is very, very good.