We put up the tree.
Celia delighted in showing me her pre-schooler scrawl on every ornament.
Little hands gave the tree a bottom heavy appearance.
With concentrated determination.
As Bing Crosby crooned "I'll Be Home for Christmas" from the Pandora radio.
Next year we'll be waiting for a big girl to come home for Christmas. Yesterday, she was that little girl.
We hung my favorite garland with all of the Christmas pictures from the beginning of "us". Newel said looking at it that way, it all seemed like a long time together ... looking at the individual growth in the pictures, it feels really short.
That one ornament, holds the most interest in the entire house. We spend hours touching each picture.
Asking who every baby is.
And getting excited to discover our own journey's beginning in the timeline that brought us into this home.
We do it again and again.
Being brought "home" this week, I was reminded of an experience in growing up with my own eight siblings and vigilant parents.
The year our older brother went off to college, was a tight one. No different than any other tight year, only there were discussions over the cost of airline fare and the possibility of his spending Christmas with distant relatives on the far side of the country to save. Each year, our grandmother would send a crisp 20$ bill for each of us ... and man o man were there plans for that thing! It was everything we had. But knowing our parent's stress, we held a kid council and made a unanimous decision to present our parents with our grandmother's gift in hopes it would lift that burden.
I remember each of us gathered and laying our $$ down in the pile as we told our mother, we just wanted our brother home. And what a merry time we had making a banner for his arrival, looking for that car to turn up the driveway, heralding his return, hearing his stories, and having him all to ourselves for that two week break.
At Christmas our hearts turn to the birth of another Brother. We can't help but draw a little closer to our heavenly home as we reach out to those around us. We want to share that feeling of coming home with others we love.
I well up with gratitude for a perfect plan. Opportunities to start over when I fail. Conversations on my knees and answers for guidance. Promises that allow me to keep this family of mine together forever. Not just today but every day.
And above all else, I couldn't be more grateful for a Brother who paid far more than a crisp 20$ bill. Who gave everything he had to give, to see that I make it home.