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My Favorite Christmas

 On the night before Christmas, I always regress to simpler times. The lights dancing off the Christmas tree ornaments hypnotize and lull me back into the innocence of childhood. Cynicism gives way to hope. Disappointment to dreams. Busyness to calm. Christmas makes me vulnerable.

That's a good thing. Every now and then, it is nice to take a vacation from maturity and digress into childishness. Christmas is a perfect time to do that.

It is easy for me to drift into nostalgia during this season, longing to relive the blessings of the past. If I try real hard, I can see my little sister comb the ringlets in her hair sitting at the new vanity she got for Christmas. And I can still feel the bitter cold on my face the year my parents gave me a bicycle and I insisted on riding it on the snow packed roads.

Christmases create special memories, and like marks on the closet door, they help us measure our lives. Low on my door are the Christmases we spent at our grandparent's house in Oklahoma, higher up are the years Mom and Dad decided to stay home to build our own traditions. Then comes the first Christmas Susan and I shared together, the ones with our small children and the rare years we "went home" for Christmas. Then there are the ones that are carved in the door, not just marked with a pencil.

Like the year, Susan's Father almost died. That Christmas stands out in bold print, shouting from the other hash marks on the closet door. Bad stuff isn't supposed to happen on Christmas Day. It was a terrible Christmas.

Funny thing, as painful as that day was then, it makes the Christmases that have followed even more special. You might even call it my favorite Christmas memory. Not because he almost died, but because he didn't.

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