I’m in the basement this morning, taking care of some last details before we head out of town for several days. Upstairs, the washer and dryer hum and clank.

My family sleeps. (Do I start a lot of posts this way?)

We had a perfectly imperfect Christmas together. A sprinkling of the flu bug, tender times in front of the Christmas tree singing carols and reading age old stories.

On Christmas Eve, the girls slept in sleeping bags at the foot of the tree. My heart burst open a little bit.

At family Christmas celebrations, cousins raced around, superheroes in capes doing all kinds of saving. They decorated gingerbread houses, as roofs slid slowly, yet steadily toward the table.

On Christmas night, my sisters and I were the most pathetic mess of tired mamas as we gathered around the tree, searching for the pickle. First, the women folk searched, then the men, then the kids.

I should explain. Finding the hidden pickle ornament is a yearly tradition in our family. Leave it to some crazy Germans. My stepmom, I should note, is a master at hiding it.

My sisters and I began to feel motion sick as we traveled up and down the tree, colored lights blurring and strobing. It took us ages to find it, and as we searched we let trickle a bit of the pent up weary.

I had no idea what my mom went through to make Christmas happen until I was a mom.

Seriously, no idea.

And it’s supposed to look effortless. That’s the ridiculous part.

I just want to sleep.

I loved it. It was the perfect ending to an exhausting and raggedly beautiful season. Ah, to know we’re not alone.

The fam and I ate way too many cookies and still show no signs of stopping.

This morning, I woke up at 4:30. 4:30. I realize this is not normal (I believe the first words out of my mouth as I fell out of bed this morning were “Lord, have mercy”), but I could not do another thing at 10 last night.

I’m becoming my mom. Flashback 24 years. Time: 10 p.m.

Me: Mama, could you please help me with my algebra? I have got to get this done, and I’m totally stuck.
Mom: Oh honey, I’d be happy to help, but I can’t right now. I honestly cannot think anymore. But we can do it in the morning. I’ll set the alarm for 4:30.
Me (weakly): 4:30? Okay.

These things have a way of coming around.

Can I tell you how much the Larkins are looking forward to this little family vacation? This will be our longest trip, just us, ever — a fact that caused Lala to burst into tears at the dinner table last night.

“Just us?” she wailed.

Oh, the humanity.

I’ll be taking another several days off from writing. I’m not sure how long. We’ll see what happens next week when I unpack from a winter vacation (so many big clothes) and dismantle the last signs of Christmas. Maybe writing will be just the distraction I need.

The tree at the top, by the way, is the girls’ in the basement, otherwise known as “how many ornaments can we fit on each branch?” I absolutely love it.

Before I switch the laundry, I’ve got to tell you that as I recount my memories of 2012, I am struck again with such gratitude for you all. For this place to come and share my thoughts and this journey with the most wonderful of readers. Encouragers, blessers you are, and I’m so humbled that you keep coming over.

I pray you and your loved people are delighting in holiday time and that your unique celebrations to welcome 2013 bring some fun memories in that way all your own.

Happy end of 2012, friends, and may you know great joy in 2013.

Great joy.

Thank you for visiting!


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