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Yule finds us scattered
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Christmas was simple when the children were young.

Most years we’d celebrate at our home. Grandparents would come to us, and we’d open the gifts Christmas Eve night.

Santa always came to our house first, (he has to start somewhere, after all).

Santa timed his visits perfectly, arriving after the grandparents had taken our offspring out to look at the holiday lights. Donna and I would stay behind to clean up a bit, but somehow we would fall asleep when Santa came.

Christmas magic, I guess.

Grandad would show our guys the reindeer scat in the front yard, hard, dry and white, evidence that the Big Guy had parked his sleigh there and already made his getaway.

They’d rush in and the frenzy would begin.

Carols would be played, toys would be assembled and demolished, wrapping paper and bows left unshredded in the mayhem of opening would be salvaged for next year. Hot chocolate would be served for the kids; Mom would have the egg and Dad the nog, while Donna and I would have a glass of wine and relax in the glow of the tiny white lights on the Christmas tree.

Things have changed.

Our guys are grown now. Our youngest, Michael, turns 20 today.

Grandchildren are a long time away.

And so there are no Disney princess gifts or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figurines under the tree. Their gifts of choice now come in discreet white envelopes: Just a Christmas card with a little love note and a check.

Our house in Oxford is comparatively bare this holiday season anyway. A massive container of Christmas paraphernalia remains at our old Augusta home, inadvertently left in our haphazard move. The tree is up and decorated, but the living room feels cold and bare. There’s a desk and a big bookcase in the room, but our comfortable couch and sofa are still in Augusta.

Our children are there, too. Work schedules preclude us getting together at one time, so Christmas this year will be celebrated in stages. Tharon III and Megen will drive over first, then we’ll get to see Elizabeth and Michael later in the weekend. Visits with both sides of the family will be sandwiched in between.

We’ll eat, we’ll laugh. I’ll play MP3’s of Christmas songs on the laptop, Donna will light a fire, and we’ll reminisce about Grandad and the reindeer scat.

It will be Christmas. Traditions will be upheld.

We just won’t all be there to enjoy them at the same time.

Maybe next year.