The tree sparkles with lights as the sun begins to come up. Everyone wears their Christmas Eve pajamas (a tradition I started last year - if you are at our house Christmas Eve, you get new pjs). Presents wrapped in green, red, blue. Bows and gift tags inviting us all to take a peek. The annoyed look on my brother's face as he walks into the living room "what time is it?" and the laughter on his face as he opens his Mr. T in your pocket. Seeing my mother act out lightning while we play cranium (it doesn't get any better than that). Tired content faces ready for bed.
Christmas music, Millie's sighs, my brother's sarcasm, my mother's laughter, the table being set, the timer dings, packages are opened!, thank you's, exclaims of surprise, the voices of my in-laws on the phone as they share their happiness about their gifts and their day, my brother's voice "I'm going to go take a nap," Jon saying "I think I am going to open up this chocolate," my mother saying "what else can I do here," my new polaroid camera talks as it hands me my first picture, laughter as we act out tofu and hum these boots are made for walking, the good nights before bed.
Shortbread cookies, chocolate, earl grey tea, cinnamon rolls, sausage and cheddar strata, artichoke dip, bread, gouda and Beecher's flagship cheese, smoked salmon rich with flavor, cream cheese, salted almonds.
The smooth surface of wrapping paper. Slipping my fingers through the little holes in my new warm mittens that I can wear when I am out in the cold and want to take pictures. Wrapping the soft cashmere scarf around my neck. Trying on a new vest and feeling the warm quilted fabric. Millie's soft fur as she wiggles with excitement as I put her new collar on her.
A cinnamon candle, evergreen and eucalyptus, new candles, mango tea, the wool of my new scarf (grateful for the gift of a neti pot from my husband's awesome grandmother, Gram, so I can hopefully add more smells over the next few days).
Be thankful for the laughter. Hold it in your heart. Remind yourself that you heard it, felt it, lived it. When you feel the stress whisper in your ear and mind, inviting you back to the past, say no. And spend some time back in the moment when you laughed and laughed with those you love. And remember that they laughed too.