'Tis the season!  For what?  To be jolly?  To be depressed?  I guess it depends on who you ask.  I say "'tis the season to slow down, relax, and enjoy family and friends!"

This is our 2014 Christmas card picture...taken in August, the last day we were all together in one place.  One of the sad realities about kids growing up is (if you have done your job) they become independent, follow their own paths, and don't appear at the breakfast table nearly as often.

Which is good...unless it's Christmas morning.

Our ceremonial gift opening on the 25th will be much less jocular without the two oldest boys adding their holiday hilarity and commentary.  Nick was with us for Thanksgiving, he will remain in Austin with his girlfriend and their gaggle of pets for this holiday.  Allen-Michael has been in Rome, Italy since September, taking classes and touring every historical landmark and church he can possible cram in.   Although it looks like he is also having some fun along the way:

Gotta LOVE the technology of Skype and Facebook to keep us all close, right?  AM is also taking in several other European countries while on his school holiday break.

Our family usually attends mass on Christmas Eve, arriving three hours before it starts and fighting, like hundreds of others, to snag some pew space.  This year Brigham has to bus tables at the local La Madeline, so we'll celebrate Jesus' birth on Christmas morning...more than likely we can leave thirty minutes before start time and still get a seat, which will be a welcome change.

My mom will come over on the Eve, we'll unwrap some gifts and pig out on "heavy apps" (shrimp cocktail, raw beef & onions, brie pizza, blue cheese chips...and tons of cookies, of course!), dressed in our pajamas we'll watch unending holiday movie classics like Home Alone and The Santa Clause.  It'll be quiet, quieter than usual, but we will no doubt savor one another's presence and chat with family around the globe as the night progresses.

As I step away from my site for a few weeks at the end of 2014, I want to leave you with just one question to ponder:  how can you make a difference in 2015?  What can you do or be in the world that can make a positive impact on this culture? 

Maybe it is joining a movement, maybe it is running for local government, maybe it is taking a class, or volunteering through your favorite animal or children's organization, maybe it's getting physically or mentally healthier yourself so you can take even better care of your family...whatever it is, find some way to make a positive difference in the world this coming year.  Because, Lord knows, we need all the positive role models and influence we can get!

As for me, 2015 will bring more praying, more writing, more advocating, and more doing all I can to be the best wife/mom/daughter/friend I can be!

Sending warm Texas hugs to you and yours this holiday...stay warm, healthy, and above all else present!

See you in the new year!

XOXO ~K.

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