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Holidays to me mean family. And decorating, traveling, shopping, wrapping, opening & passing gifts, laughing, drinking & eating {those come along with my family}.

This year will be different.

My Ma {my Mom’s mother} passed away last year around 2am Christmas morning. Jason & I had driven down to Charlotte that Christmas Eve day. As a family, we’d held Ma’s hands & been by her side most of the time last fall & all the time those last days. My mom, aunt & I felt drawn to my grandparents’ Christmas Eve 11p church service {Dad & my other aunt stayed by Ma’s side}. We cried, prayed & sang along with the beautiful music that night. Then we returned to the nursing home where I read Night Before Christmas {a never missed tradition} to Ma & my family before Dad, Mom & I headed to an apartment for the night. Soon after, Mom heard from her sister & our Christmas mornings will never be the same.

We celebrated “Christmas” in the food & gifts sense the following weekend with my immediate family & my Dad’s parents. That’s when I opened my DSLR & took 200+ photos that first weekend including this one of my Mom & Nana.

"Christmas" aka New Years Eve 2010

While things will be different this year, holiday comfort will still be sought & found with each other. We will once again gather in Charlotte a few days before Christmas. We’ll still over-eat though now at a buffet at my grandfather’s retirement community instead of cooking for days. But I’ll still make cookies & hopefully we can recreate Ma’s green beans.

This year, instead of Christmas green Madori martinis, I’ll be drinking water & ginger ale along with my cousin’s wife who’s also pregnant. We’ll be having our family’s first great-grands in the spring/summer.

We’ll hug & laugh & celebrate the exciting changes 2011 has brought. All the while our Ma & her sister Virg, who recently joined her in heaven, won’t be far from our thoughts & hearts.

Then my parents, my Dad’s parents, my brother & sister-in-law, Husband & I will continue the holiday together in VA. We’ll open gifts, look at wedding photos, shop & eat {I’m calling dibs on Nana’s cheese straws}.

I can only imagine the changes there will be next year as babies enter the picture. But like the changes since Christmas 2009 & 2010, holiday comfort for me will still best be found in family togetherness.

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