Have you ever seen the Folgers coffee commercial where the young man comes home early Christmas morning?  He and his kid sister are hanging out in the kitchen and as he is making coffee he hands her a gift.  She pulls off the bow, puts it on his shirt and says, "you are my present this year."  Pan over to mom and dad in the doorway smiling as they watch the scene take place before welcoming their son home with holiday hugs.  I cannot watch that commercial without welling up. (See "Folgers Christmas ad 2009" on youtube.com). There will be a similar scene unfolding in our home this week with the return of one son from college and the eldest from his life in Austin.  It's been months since we've seen either one. As a mom, I can think of no greater gift than having all of my children together under the same roof.  Whether it's Christmas or not, being with the people you love is more precious than anything wrapped in a box.

I know not every holiday can be compared to a sappy coffee commercial.  We've had some challenges as a family which, I feel, have enabled us to better appreciate one another this holiday.  And, for some of you, this Christmas will be more difficult (financially, emotionally, spiritually...) than others.  If that is the case, consider this:  life is cyclical, it will have it's share of ups and downs.  The downs help you appreciate the ups and, if you allow them to, will also help you grow as a person.

So when you wake up on Christmas morning, whether or not you smell Folgers coffee brewing, dwell not on what is under the tree, or who you will spend time with, but on what life has taught you thus far and where it may take you next.  Be grateful for the journey.

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