Blake & Braden
The twinkle in their eyes rivals the glow of the tree lights. They see wonder and delight in the smallest things.
It makes us look at things differently, too. A strawberry Jell-O stain on the carpet wasn't nearly as big a catastrophe as we watched Braden "help" his Grandma clean the carpet.
"More, more, more," he'd giggle.
"More, more, more" we adults thought, as the music of little children's giggles and chatter colored the room more abundantly than any lighted tree.
This was Braden's second Christmas, but with an August birthday, he wasn't all that interested last year. It was Neelly's first Christmas. (Both are my sister Lisa's grandchildren.)
Neelly, 8 months, sat in a high chair that had first brought her Great-Grandma Moore to the table to share meals at the family table 76 years before. The rabbit-themed high chair is one of those threads that hold the tapestry of family together from one generation to the next. Neelly is the fourth generation to use it, and it came from the side of the family for whom she is named.
Along with new little ones came new traditions. Instead of waiting until after supper for opening packages, we opened gifts mid-afternoon. Post naptime made for good moods all around.
But even with a growing family, there were empty spaces at the table this year. Jill & Eric decided to stick close to home, since their baby girl is due January 12.
For the first time since Madison was a baby back in 1994, one of my folks' seven grandchildren wasn't there to help blow out the candles and celebrate my Mom's Christmas Eve birthday.
Little people mean more challenges for the annual photo tradition. Did anyone get a shot with everyone looking the same way? Probably not.
Not having Jill and Eric there felt a little like putting together a jigsaw puzzle and then discovering that a couple of essential pieces were missing.
But life evolves. And we'll see Christmas through the eyes of yet another child next year. The tapestry of family will add another interwoven piece, another thread that will strengthen the fabric of family.
And that is a very good thing.