Just got back from my brother's house. With all the family who showed up, their spouses, some of their families and a pile of children, it was a mad house, but for once it was very enjoyable. All the little ones I saw there a year ago have disappeared and been replaced by much larger kids I barely recognized, but it was heart warming to see they all still knew their Uncle Dan, There were a few people missing, like one of my nieces and her husband, but I swear if everyone had shown up there would not have been room to breathe.
We had a very nice Christmas dinner, with an Italian spread served first and then a while later a traditional American Christmas dinner, with ham and turkey, dressing, potatoes and several other sides. Then came desert, after another breather - pumpkin pie, apple pie, spice cake, spiced pumpkin cake, assorted home made cookies, and cheesecake. I ate so much, my belly sounds like a ripe watermelon when I thump it. (I tell you folks all this so that should I not make it to morning, you will have some idea of the cause of death and know I died happy).
Then all the kids (I stopped counting at 15) gathered around the tree and opened presents; pure pandemonium ensued - once opened, it seemed any gift was fair game without regard for whom it was originally intended. I had great fun watching as the adults - most of whom I remember as small children opening presents on Christmas - gradually got it all under control and managed to get each child's gifts packed separately to be redistributed when they got home. I had not felt the holiday spirit much at all this year, but I can say that once there today, I felt something much stronger - the spirit of family.
I hope you all have had a very Merry Christmas, whether spent with family and friends or with only memories. I know that this turned out to be a very special Christmas for me, and a large part of what made it so special was watching those mothers and fathers tending to their many children and making Christmas special for them - and the memories I have of those very same people as small children opening presents on Christmas day, and of the rest of us trying to make Christmas special to them. Sometimes, especially as we get older, it takes a profound experience in the present to bring back a clear view of the past.
Wishing you each and every one a special and memorable holiday season and many years in which to cherish those memories.