The Christmas holidays always get me nostalgic. I remember Christmas Eves at my Grandma Wolfe's house with a coffee tin full of cookies and those huge peppermint sticks in my stocking. I remember the year we all got brand new crocheted afghans, and I still have mine today. I actually still have my sister's too. We always got homemade gifts for Christmas and those were some of the happiest times of my life.
My mom was an only child who grew up in this amazing house on Cayuga Island. Her father died when I was just five and my parents ended up buying the house and we, a family of 6 (four kids, me the youngest) moved in. It was the best house in the world...right on the Little River. In the summer, my grandmother rowed us in a boat across the river to Buffalo Avenue and in the winter we had a built-in ice skating rink. Each spring we would count the new families of baby ducks and take boat rides every chance we got. In fact, there were many times I remember my grandmother yelling after me as I was hopping in a boat and abandoning my lawn duties.
This season, I am missing my oldest brother who is living in CA where he is the head pro at the Nick Faldo Golf Institute at Shadow Ridge and I am missing my parents who are in The Villages in central Florida. Although used to not having the parents around for Christmas because they have always spent this holiday with my brother Mike and we at home have had them for every other holiday, it never gets easier not having them here. Thank God my sister and other brother and their kids live here and I get to spend time with them. Family is so important to me and I love that my sister lives eight blocks one way from my house and my brother lives thirteen blocks the other way. It is so nice to be so close to one another. My nieces and nephews are such joys in my life; all great kids and accomplished. It does a heart good to see them grow into such wonderful young people. I only wish that my other brother's kids were as close. They grow up so fast when they are right in front of your eyes, but seem to do it so much faster when they are far away. Thankfully I get to see them each summer, but somehow it is not enough. Each picture I get makes me cry because of how much they have grown in between.
Most of my nieces and nephews are in their twenties or late teens and although I desperately miss those two nephews who are miles and states away from me, I am so thankful for those three nieces and two nephews that I have right here with me in my own neighborhood. One niece and one nephew are my godchildren and the others are just as special. It is so nice to have them so close...in mileage as well as just a text away. It is them who have taught me the meaning of a "143" message (I Love You, referring to the number of letters in each word of the message) and I cherish each one I receive. Naturally I have a special affinity with my two godchildren; one is a TA in my district and the other is, well, without sounding biased, the most polite and kind young man I have ever met...and in my career I have met thousands of teenagers who have not come close to this young man.
At this time of holiday cheer and family celebration, I wish you and your family the very best for the coming year. May you have the opportunity to spend some quality time with those who mean the most to you and find some way to give to others less fortunate. If you are looking for ideas to do the latter, please see this wonderful blog written by an amazing 11-year old, the daughter of a friend I am thankful to have in my life. Please visit Twentyfivedays to find simple ways to give back to your community. And if you're looking for cost-effective ways to give in meaningful ways to your families, see this post by Angela. 'Tis the season to find ways to give from your heart! Happy Holidays to you and your families!
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