Last year Christmas was a prolonged and festive occasion, with my older brother Jim and his family from Maryland, plus Kevin and Vinny. It was a reunion after many years of not being together on Christmas. This year, many factors will make it a more mellow holiday. Jim and his family won't be able to come to New Jersey. It's the first Christmas for us without Vinny's Mom. Neither of us felt like getting a tree (or decorating it) so we are abstaining. But it's okay because the most important part of Christmas exists no matter what is happening in our lives.
There's a part of Christmas that has always been about Kevin for me. He's our perpetual child, always excited by presents of screwdrivers and coloring books and turned off by socks. He lights up the morning with his gratitude for something as simple as a box of pens.
But Christmas isn't about Kevin. And I'm aware of a deeper meaning to Christmas this year.
I am so thankful to have a more palpable faith in God. I have worked to get there, focusing on my relationship with Him. But I know that much of my connection with God is a result of grace - God's grace, that I have not earned and could never repay. I've tried to pass it on a little bit, by participating more in food and coat drives, keeping the focus off myself, which isn't always easy. But I know that the most important thing for me to remember this year is God's gift to me of his Son.