It’s a perfect Christmas of sun shining, and taking the time for not one, but two walks in the woods. After the last-minute wrapping, the first walk with my husband, to the river, and then he heads back, I go on alone for some thoughtfulness and gratitude, to wonder about the day ahead, with all the meals and gift exchanging, the “kids” to arrive. The disappointment of my younger brother and his family who are ALWAYS with us at Christmas, to be at the hospital with their daughter instead. But, the walk gives me what I need, I find energy I didn’t think I had, and now everyone is arriving, the house is filling with our three children, their loved ones, my husband’s mother, her loved one, the guest dogs, and breakfast and everyone, everyone getting along and happy to be together – that’s what a parent wants for Christmas. Then there’s clearing up the wrapping, and so much help! there’s even time for a second walk or, at least I make time, I decide there’s time, and, my daughter, my son, his fiancée go off to the river and into the woods, and this, is also all I want for Christmas: to be where I love to be with those who want to be there with me too. because walking and talking in the woods is where conversations you least expect pop up, and they’re wonderful ones I wouldn’t want to miss; and then it’s home to make the meal and happy news - my niece is being discharged and they will all make the meal after all! Now the wonderful mad rush of making dinner is on, and my husband and I work side by side in the kitchen, which is also all I want for Christmas, and my brother is in the door, and hugs all around, my niece is okay, she won’t last the meal, she gets tired, but we’re together. Every time I think I’ve run out of energy I get a second wind and the day goes on in a joyful extravaganza of being with the people I love and making them happy and feeling their happiness. At dinner, our table is full, after all, and after I serve the popovers fresh from the oven - and they’re good! - I make a toast, to my son and my daughter - the two engagements of 2018, who knew? And it’s after dinner, after dessert, when, once again, it’s just us, my husband, three children and the future son and daughter in law, and Charlie and Suzi by the fire, that I feel the most Christmas I’ve ever felt: just relaxed conversation, no tv and no phones, we’re adults having conversation, learning about each other, sharing opinions and feelings, so many unknowns coming to the surface. Intimacy. What my husband and I wanted for Christmas. And this: knowing it’s a gift. Not taking it for granted. Being thankful for a night where the stars aligned and our home is a place where we welcome each other into the room.