Ah. Family. Always good for laughs, easy silence, boisterous yelling over one another, stories, hugs, and a history of yourself that sometimes you'd sooner forget. I love when I can spend time with everyone at Christmas, both the "new" Joneses and the "old" Gileses, etc. My sister-in-law Jessica can shop like a fiend, for which I owe her a great deal of respect. I never thought I'd meet someone who could out-shop me, but I have. And add to that she is now a shopping fiend with a 3-year-old in tow, and you'll understand the immense awe I have of her. My mom-in-law seems ever-patient...managing the feeding of what seems like 25 of us at once...her home filled with extra dogs, extra toys, and extra voices from floor to rafter. But I don't think she'd have it any other way. She thrives on the hub-bub (I love the word "hub-bub"). My dear mom has decorated every space with ribbons and poinsettias and sparkly Christmas things...and seems intent on making each moment FUN. Dad is napping in the corner, waking occassionally to see if he's missed any of the fun. The cousins are vegetarian/organic/west-coasters who keep the mix very interesting, intellectually stimulating, and there simply isn't enough time to catch up with them between the baby-shower/Christmas game/Bingo (yes, Bingo!). We'll have to resort to emails again to keep the cousinly connection flowing through the year. What a blessing the email is! Then, there's that possibility of running into a dear friend in Target...that initial moment, of "hey, that looks like Tabitha's husband...wait, where am I again? Oh yes, Newnan! Hey! That IS Tabitha's husband..." And then you crowd the aisles of 50% off Christmas-land while you catch up with a friend you've known over half your life...who walked you through Calculus and Proms...and now lives all the way in Minnesota (I know. I'm shocked that anyone moves to Minnesota on purpose too).
Christmas. Lovely for so many other reasons than the obvious. I love the celebration of the birth of Christ. I love the music, the presents, the decorations, the lights in trees, the lights on houses and bushes and reindeer and Santas and nativities, and everything! (I do not, however, love the recent inflatable-decoration trend, but that's for another day) I love to see family and friends who have become family in their own way. I love to hang with the tall Joneses and the laughing Gileses, eating, drinking, and being merry...We are abundantly blessed. We are thankful for our friends, too, who have showered us this year with Christmas cards and letters from all corners of the U.S. I can't wait for 2008 to see what God does, mighty and great. Stay tuned.