Ah...relief at last.

Holidays with my family can be dramatic, to say the least. (Case in point.)

So I'm always glad when Christmas dinner is over, when I can quietly sneak upstairs for a nap or some casual web surfing, when I can hear the drone of the dishwasher downstairs. It calls to me; it says: "Hey, you made it...the damn day is pretty much over, so calm the hell down!"

I'm not sure when Christmas became something to dread, something to "get through" (like a tooth extraction) instead of something to look forward to, something to want to hold onto forever. But it did, and I suppose that's unfortunate.

My sister and I are all grown up... Presents aren't so exciting anymore and the glitz of the decorations, the garland on the tree--they've lost most of their luster as the years passed.

But hey, we've all got to grow up sometime.

It's funny; at some point Christmas went from being a special day, a day of giving, a day of celebration, to being a day we struggle to get through, a day when success is defined solely by whether the family drama was kept somewhat to a minimum.

But I can't complain, because this is indeed a good Christmas.

There was no yelling at the table, no arguing around the tree, no raised voices in the house at all...except to call everyone to dinner. Everyone was very quiet and diplomatic, like a tiny model UN.

Everyone behaved themselves and nobody had to go to the hospital.

Ah...relief. That's a damn good feeling. A feeling you never quite respect until shit gets pushed right to the edge of the cliff, teeters a bit, and then settles back safely on the firmament.

Relief. Calm. And a good glass of 'nog coupled with a few slices of pie to blunt any sense of panic that might crop up between now and bedtime. Yes, things are indeed good.

Sure the lights seem dimmer and the tensil doesn't seem as exciting as it once did. But I'm not a child anymore, and when you grow up, you start wishing for more adult things, like quiet and harmony and everybody-not-killing-each-other-ness (at least you do when you're with my family over an extended period of time). Besides, childhood innocence is highly overrated.

As I submit this writeup, I even hear faint laughter floating up from downstairs. Someone has told a joke--a good joke, a joke that somehow managed not to offend anyone, that somehow managed to extract a giggle or two out of everyone.

I'm not religious, but Christmas is a special time...and miracles still seem to happen, given the right circumstances.

To my E2 family: I'm relatively new to your ranks, but nonetheless I've still enjoyed all your company these last few months. I hope all of you--and especially the particular few of you who have taken the time to make me feel so welcome (you know who you are)--have a safe and wonderful holiday season with your friends and family.

Happy Winter Solstice; Merry Christmas; have a fantabulous whatever-you-celebrate! I wish all of you all the very best.