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Family Christmas

Christmas at Our House could be in a cabin in the pine trees, a mobile home on a desert lot, a in a home in a crowded city or a castle in Spain-- it is still home and home is where the family gathers at Christmas with friends and relatives, kids and animals. Home is feelings and happiness and warmth and cookies-just-out-of-the-oven.

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We've lived in many places but each year at Christmas Time we pack the car with already wrapped gifts, stuff the kids in the car and we head for home. It's a trip into the past, of remembering Christmas days of our own childhood. It's a trip into the future, planning the special surprises on Christmas Day for our own children. It's a happy time and sometimes a sad time. There are some who are no longer at the family gatherings and as we look around we miss their faces and their presence. There are some who cannot come home this year and we miss them and wish them well and look forward to next year when we can all be together once again.

Christmas in January

There was one Christmas long ago when I could not make it home for Christmas. I knew that we would have to be home for a short time in January. I asked Mom and Dad to keep the Christmas tree up until we could get home.

The tree looked a little bare, sort of droopy and was missing quite a few of it's pine needles, but it was still there in it's special place by the front window when we drove into the driveway that day in January. The Christmas lights were still up and flashing and the smell of the Christmas cake met us at the front door. Dad was just out of the hospital and sitting in his favorite chair near the Christmas Tree. We were home in January -- and the Christmas Season surrounded us with sights and smells and happiness.

The date was January 15th. We were home for Christmas in January because my son had just been born the day before on my Dad's birthday at the same hospital that Dad had just returned from. We would pick my son up from the hospital the very next day. He would be three days old. We had his name already picked out and had brought a baby carrier and small port-a-crib with us. Mom had gathered together bottles, diapers and everything else needed for a newborn baby. Tonight we would all gather and exchange Christmas gifts. Tomorrow, we would gather together .. as many relatives as could get off work, and make the short trip to the hospital to pick up a tiny child-- the most precious gift of all.

Dad was excited and couldn't wait to share his experiences in the hospital. He had "snuck" out of his room, made his way down to the maternity room and gazed at all the newborn babies, looking for that special one-- ours! A special bond formed for a grandson born on his birthday.

The hospital lobby is crowded and noisy as we wait for the doctor to return from the maternity ward. The sound of running feet draws our attention to the stairs. The doctor is coming down the stairs at a dead run. "The elevator," he gasps, pointing toward the elevator doors. We turn and start in that direction, the elevator doors open and a nurse steps out, a bundle in her arms. We gaze in awe and wonder at the miracle of a small baby-- tiny, and perfect, and beautiful.

Thirty odd years have passed but each holiday season still brings back the memories of that one special time: the tired Christmas tree, the smells of special cookies and the Christmas cake, the looks of joy and the sounds of laughter. There's a little more grey in Dad's hair, Mom is wearing glasses for the first time, the family is gathering again, as we do each year to celebrate the Christmas season, and my thoughts and mind fly back to that special Christmas in January.

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